Exciting new developments for Oakbrook Farm

Thanks to community support and investment, the Biodynamic Land Trust bought 41-acres of land, now called Oakbrook Farm, near Hawkwood College, in 2015.

The community-owned farm currently has two tenants, Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) and Stroud Micro Dairy, with new farm activities coming on board in 2018.

Events and activities on the land brought volunteers, resulting in enquiries for new enterprises on Oakbrook Farm. So far, Oakbrook Farm Group has agreed that chickens (below) and bees will arrive on-site in Spring 2018. In addition, David Austin’s beautiful drawings are informing the work of Oakbrook Development Group in 2018.

Fulfilling Oakbrook Farm’s purpose as a living working community farm

Gabriel Kaye says: “We are looking at development in three stages: short-term (2018); mid-term (2018 – 2020) and long-term (2020 and beyond). For the short-term, there is work to do on site to enable exciting new enterprises to have hard-standing ground, storage and covered work space, and access to water and electricity near Stroud Micro Dairy.

The Biodynamic Land Trust invites local investors and supporters to buy general shares in multiples of £100 and designate them to Oakbrook Farm. Please email or call to specify they are for Oakbrook Farm.

Alternatively, make donations for this cause (with gift aid if possible) as soon as possible. Every little bit helps!

We would like to fund this over winter so the work can be done before spring when farm life gets busy.

Please feel free to talk to me, Gabriel, our new Board Member, Lucas Schoemaker, Stroud Micro dairyman Kees Frederiks, or SCA’s Mark Harrison.

Oakbrook Farm is looking for a target of between £5,000 – £10,000. Please support young farmers developing new enterprises and fulfil Oakbrook Farm’s purpose as a busy thriving community farm. Thank you.”

Starter Farm is restarting at Oakbrook Farm

Oakbrook’s starter farm is having a new start in 2018. A starter farm is designed to enable entrant farmers to learn to farm with support from more experienced farmers.

Although there was no starter farm activities in 2017 due to illness, the land was nevertheless put to good use. Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) produced fine crops, particularly squash (harvested and now in store) and carrots (still in the ground under a protective fleece).

SCA’s Mark Harrison says: “We are currently erecting a large polytunnel for the Start Farm as originally planned. The framework is up and we hope to put on the plastic cover in the new year. The Start Farm will be managed differently from last year. Last year all of the vegetables produced were taken by the SCA for the members’ veg shares. This year, our starter farmer will have a smaller area of land (and the polytunnel), and be growing crops for direct sale.

“We hope to set up a farm stall by Stroud Micro Dairy, sell through SCA’s packing shed, and hopefully other outlets. This will give Kit (formerly Clare) more autonomy, allowing more scope for experimentation and variety, but will entail the challenge of maintaining her own marketing. All of this will still be under the SCA’s mentorship which will continue to farm the rest of the cultivated land on Oakbrook.”

New arrivals at Oakbrook Farm

White leghorn chickens at Huxhams Cross Fasrm
From April 2018, 100 egg-laying chickens will be integrated into the grazing plan with Stroud Micro Dairy cows to help improve Oakbrook Farm’s soil health and fertility. Ellie Price will be bringing chickens (plus two cockerels) to live in a mobile coop, which will be moved to follow the cows. This will provide a valuable pasture-cleansing and fertilising service.

As well as gobbling up unwanted larvae and insects, the chickens will spread cow manure about by their scratching, imparting their own fertile droppings too. In a virtuous cycle, access to fresh pasture should lead to contented chickens, leading to tasty and nutritious eggs. These will be sold via both Stroud Community Agriculture and Stroud Micro Dairy.

Three Kings preparation at Oakbrook Farm 6 January 2018

Tending trees in memory of Colin at Oakbrook Farm

All welcome at Oakbrook Farm on Saturday 27 January to tend trees in memory of Colin Cameron, who loved and grew trees. A founder member of Stroudco Food Hub, Colin was described as “a tall oak in the forest of our community”.

Nick Weir writes: “We will be mulching trees that were planted in memory of Colin Cameron and building protective boxes around some of them.  They include: oak, local varieties of apples, purging buckthorn, crab apples, blackthorn, dog rose, spindle berry, witch hazel, cobs, filberts, rowan, hazel, hawthorn and field maple.

“The mulching job involves pushing light wheelbarrows (mulch is not heavy) downhill from the trailer to the oaks and apples planted in the field. We will also be planting 15 crab apple trees we didn’t get round to planting last time. Please do not bring any more trees for planting at this stage!”

When: 10:30am – 3.30 pm on Saturday 27 January 2018.
Where: Oakbrook Farm, Old Painswick Road, Stroud GL6 7QN.
If coming from Stroud towards Wick Street, the farm entrance is on the right, just before the entrance to Hawkwood College.  If coming by car, please park beyond the Stroud Micro Dairy shed (and not in front of the shed), end-on to the fence on the left, making space for as many cars as possible. Bring tools and gloves, if you have some, and join this community activity. We would love to know if you can come.

Hedging and coppicing at Oakbrook Farm
– choose February weekend day

Can you give a day in February 2018 to help with this work? It gives a real buzz and sense of wellbeing as well as a feeling of a job well done. No particular skills needed as it will mostly be planting hedging whips in soil prepared by a tractor. Please contact Gabriel to say if you prefer a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

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