"How much has UK investment grown?" slide at Beyond Good Business social invest conference 2018

Director’s blog Spring 2018

Daffodils in March

Director’s Blog

Spring 2018: latest from Biodynamic Land Trust executive director Gabriel Kaye

Winter has passed and spring is finally getting going. As usual the last few months have been busy ones.

Huxhams Cross Farm funding appeal

You should by now (end-March) have had a letter or email about this.

We are delighted to announce the last stage of the development of the farm infrastructure at Huxhams Cross is underway, and the foundations for the Wellbeing and Education Centre have been poured! This is great news, but it has taken longer than expected to get to this point, so the various on-farm activities that need this building are having to find temporary alternatives (such as a caravan) or be held off.

We are appealing to our supporters to help us with a final push to raise £60,000. It is vital for our project funding to achieve this as soon as possible.

We have been supported along the way with shares, donations and loans, as well as a grant from LEADER Rural Development Fund (£35,000). However, the total development cost is £200,000. This covers work done on the access from Rattery Road, parking area and hard standing, barn, electricity and water supplies, and still to be completed, the rain-water and drainage systems as well as the low-carbon building to house the Wellbeing and Education activities – that is key to the diverse provision of Huxhams Cross Farm.

Please help us as best you can on this last push to complete this beacon project so that education, training, cookery, the processing of farm produce, and the therapeutic and wellbeing work can have their much-needed space.

Potential land

Many interesting enquiries and sometimes land possibilities come towards the Biodynamic Land Trust. It is possible that more land may come to us in 2018/19, and we also hope to support saving some land for biodynamic farming in Ireland.

Noltland Farm fields, Orkney

Fifty acres of fields at Noltland Farm have now been sold. After much discussion and deliberation, we came to an agreement with the tenant farmers, the Wilsons, not to run a community share offer on that land and to sell it. We are grateful that Sam McEwen, the organic farm neighbour, has bought these fields, with other locals buying a few acres and the old shed for their horses. We wish Jason and Nina Wilson all the best with their lovely cows and award-winning cheeses.

Board News

The Board has two new directors. Having begun as guest directors, they have now been co-opted as full members. Ian Nicholson has stepped up to help with the financial management, while Lucas Schoemaker is sharing his organisational management skills, is on the new HR group, and is working with the Oakbrook Farm project.

Long-standing board member Rachel Harries has taken on to chair the board and is sharing her experience in marketing with the team. We also have two guest directors who, we hope, will become full board members in due course.

We had a board meeting in February looking at development, budgets, and planning the year ahead. Directors have met with founder, Martin Large, about future support for the Trust, and we are looking forward to having a combined meeting with the Biodynamic Association in the near future.

Prudent budgets

At this time of year, organisations like ours are reviewing finances, looking at the past year and preparing budgets for the coming one. The finances are tight this year and fundraising is a key focus. We will likely be consolidating staff hours over the next few months to manage on tighter budgets as there is no specific funding for a land or development project at present.

Other news
Staff and two directors attended the Oxford Real Farming conference (ORFC) in January and presented the Land Whispering “The Land Needs Us” workshop with Dan Powell of LandBase – listen here to the Oxford Real Farming conference workshop. The Biodynamic Land Trust offers Land Whispering workshops for groups at cost.

The Biodynamic Land Trust welcomed Molly Scott Cato to Oakbrook Farm. As a local supporter, the Green MEP was able to see the progress that has been made, and speak to the young farmers of the starter farm and Stroud Micro Dairy.

In March, the Biodynamic Land Trust was one of three out of 26 social enterprises chosen to pitch in front of a panel of social investors at the Beyond Good Business annual conference (picture below). This has led to engaging in conversations with potential investors. View the first two-minutes of our social investment pitch here.

Access to Land

We continue working with kindred organisations such as the Real Farming Trust, Ecological Land Coop, Soil Association Land Trust, the Kindling Trust and Shared Assets on various projects regarding funding for securing land into commons, incubator farm development and consultations on post-Brexit issues.

Working with you

We are keen we work actively with our members and supporters to make the most of this great organisation and its potential; so if you would like to volunteer, make a donation or invest in shares, or if you have an idea we might benefit from, we would love to hear from you.

Do look out for our letter in your post (or email inbox) about helping achieve the £60,000 target to complete the Wellbeing and Education Centre at Huxhams Cross Farm.

Best wishes, Gabriel

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