The 34-acre farm near Totnes established on land secured by the Biodynamic Land Trust in September 2015, is now fully operational. Designed and run by the Apricot Centre applying biodynamic and permaculture principles, it achieved full biodynamic status in 2018.
There are now ten acres of vegetables in the ground, six polytunnels full of fruit and vegetables, a five-acre field down to YQ wheat and the other arable field having a rest, down to clovers and grazed by 150 hens that are laying fine eggs. The two Shetland cows Damson and Daffodil are in the Long Meadow that is now a picture of health with over 200 orchids counted in spring 2019. The other two fields have now been planted with over 300 fruit trees and another 400 are to go in this winter. The farm, led by Marina and Mark O’Connell and Bob Mehew, has championed health and wellbeing from the outset, integrating therapy for children and families.
Their beautiful training centre eco-building is now landscaped into the hillside and is bedding in, with the lovely pod next door. Referrals for therapy and mentoring are on the rise, as people see how this fits into the farm landscape. The Apricot Centre have just built a five-metre oak framed all weather shelter in the woodlands that are having a bit of renovation. The fences are coming out as is the laurel, revealing beautiful ancient coppice hazels, and huge oaks and some unusual Devon banks that probably have a story and more research will be carried out on these. The centre will start taking social prescribing in this area. Rachel Phillips is developing an area of Social Forestry, where people can come and work in the woods, carve a spoon, light a fire or just have a nice time with some other people. This will be used for children as well as adults.
The centre are now developing the next part of the business plan for the farm, a food processing micro enterprise. They are making jams and cordials with excess produce from the farm and hope to expand this into chutneys, and fermented food and relishes and juices the help of local talented cooks. An unexpected but exciting development is that the farm joined forces with the local bakery – the Almond Thief and the Dartington Hall Farm Parsonage farm to form a new Community Interest Company called Dartington Mill. They have secured funding from Leader and local investors to buy a new mill that will mill their Biodynamic YQ wheat into flour, and the Heritage wheat grown on the estate to go into making a local loaf or to sell as flour.
The farm has piloted three core training courses: a four-day Introduction to Biodynamic Farming and Gardening; a two- day course on Agroforestry; and a 12-day Permaculture Design Course. All of these went extremely well, and they will run them again in 2019/2020.
The farm takes volunteers on the first Thursday of the month, 10 am till 4 pm. They have an open day on Open Farm Sunday every year, that is the first Sunday in June, and hope to have a regular open farm event on their birthday at the end of September every year.
For more information about the farm see the Apricot Centre website.
The entrance to the farm is on Rattery Road, Dartington, Totnes TQ9 6AA.
Although complete and delivering these fantastic outcomes, the Apricot Centre is still in need of funds to repay loans taken on to complete the build. The Huxhams Cross Infrastructure share offer is still open, so we invite you to help us secure the finances for this build, so please invest if you can.
Your help is needed to fund this vital project………….
Invest for positive change
By post: download and print Huxhams Cross Farm Share Application form
Online share application to choose a farm you wish to invest in: Invest for a positive ethical world
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Become a positive change-maker by investing in the Biodynamic Land Trust community shares for Huxhams Cross Farm to bring about economic, ecological and community renewal in the countryside.
Tenanted by sustainability experts, the Apricot Centre, the farm is weaving biodynamic and permaculture farming and healing the land.
Support the Training and Wellbeing Apricot centre at Huxhams Cross Farm
The Biodynamic Land Trust secures land through your investment to create biodynamic organic farms such as Huxhams Cross Farm, and help them flourish. The low-carbon Apricot Centre will offer farm-to-fork cookery activities for children and adults, facilities to turn fresh excess produce into jams, juices and chutneys, training in permaculture and biodynamic farming as well as a base for the Apricot Centre’s well-being service for vulnerable families.
Invest in farming for the future
A charitable community benefit society, the Biodynamic Land Trust offers community shares for Huxhams Cross Farm, changing the world one farm at a time.
Do you know you can also invest in community shares on behalf of others, including children? Investing in a community-owned farm has got to be a gift that goes on giving.
Invest in the land
Huxhams Cross Farm’s tenant farmer, the Apricot Centre, is weaving permaculture with biodynamic farming and working towards biodynamic organic (Demeter) certification. Focused on increasing microbial soil life, biodynamic farming regenerates soil fertility and the health of the eco-system, year-on-year, and provides the grower with a toolkit to support a self-sustaining farm-system. Permaculture also centres on closed-loop farming, while its ethics of earth care, people care, fair share reflect the holistic principles of biodynamics.
Invest in people
Huxhams Cross Farm offers opportunities to learn on the land and increase wellbeing. It hosts farm school activities for local children including South Devon Steiner school, has a farm manager and a full-time grower, two apprentices, and a band of volunteers. Its proposed low-carbon Education and Wellbeing centre with cooking facilities will be a place to teach “farm-to-fork” cooking and wellbeing skills as well as training in biodynamic and permaculture methods. The Apricot Centre has over 20 years’ experience of permaculture and biodynamic farming, and working therapeutically with families. The Education and Wellbeing centre will enable these offerings to happen on the land.
Become a positive change-maker by investing in our community shares for Huxhams Cross Farm and make your money do good. Support community-owned farms to nurture the land and foster connections between land and people to create a living working countryside. Invest with this easy-to-use form. Please view terms and conditions here before investing.
The Apricot Centre
In 2015 the Apricot Centre signed a 15-year lease with the Biodynamic Land Trust to create a working, living community farm. Its co-directors are farm project manager Bob Mehew, family psychotherapist Mark O’Connell, and farmer Marina O’Connell. After setting up School Farm for the Dartington Trust in the 1990s, Marina created a fruit farm from scratch and has farmed it for 15 years in Essex.
Marina O’Connell says: “If children are given the opportunity to make connections to nature and growing healthy food, then in the long-term this will lead to them having healthier diet, a broader palette, a greater sense of wellbeing – and it forms the basis for respect for place and nature.”
Huxhams Cross Farm – The new well-being and education centre built at Huxhams Cross farm was complete in September 2018 and was part-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The aim of this project was to build a 99 square metre well-being and education building for occupancy by the Apricot Centre providing: a multi-functional space for training purposes, to host visitors and school groups to the farm; office space; a kitchen with food processing facilities for the creation of products from farm produce and the provision of refreshments for staff and visitors; and a meeting /consultation room.
Now the project build is complete, the Apricot Centre team are able to offer the following:
Delivery of Training Services – The multi-function training room enables the Apricot Centre to deliver training in sustainability, including courses in permaculture, biodynamics and sustainable horticulture. This room is also be used for other purposes, and is available to hire by other businesses whose ethics are in-line with the Apricot Centre.
Food Processing – The kitchen and food processing facilities enables the creation of value-added products such as jams, chutneys, fruit leathers and compotes. The kitchen is also be used in conjunction with the training room to deliver courses in cookery and nutrition.
Well-being Services – The premises has a private room used to deliver therapy services to families and children.
The European Agricultural Fund
for Rural Development:
Europe investing in rural areas