The Biodynamic Land Trust is pleased to be supporting Old Parsonage Farm, near Totnes in Devon to embark on a new stage in its evolution. The Trust has been able to respond to this urgent need and exciting opportunity as a result of the regular donations and continued financial investments from its supporters and shareholders and the generosity of a local benefactor.
Farmers Jon and Lynne Perkin took on the tenancy of the 450 acre mixed arable and livestock farm owned by Dartington Hall Trust in March 2015. They established Dartington Dairy in 2016, selling products from their goats milk, and their Jersey cow milk going to a local cheesemaker. However, although the dairy was popular, income levels were not sufficient so Jon and Lynne have re-designed the farm.
a sustainable farm
They aim to create an economically and environmentally sustainable farm, growing food for local and regional people and businesses. The farm will be certified organic in the first instance, and produce a range of artisan arable crops. These will be milled in Dartington Mill (based on the farm), sold to local bakeries and retailed locally with their partners the Almond Thief and the Apricot Centre, or sold as organic animal feed. The farm will have a pasture fed suckler herd, selling the calves on. It will also have a small goat micro dairy, producing milk, kefir and yoghurt. Additionally, they aim to nestle a number of micro businesses into the farm. These will join those already in place including hemp, cider and honey production alongside agroforestry, for financial and cropping resilience.
The farm aims to be innovative, and experiment with new and novel crops such as pulses, buckwheat and lentils. It also aims to have a small demonstration aspect. For instance, offering farm walks to farmers thinking of re-localising their food sales and moving into agroecological farming methods. The farm is next to Schumacher College which trains people from around the world in sustainable systems including food production. It is also adjacent to the Biodynamic Land Trust’s Huxhams Cross Farm, designed and run by the Apricot Centre.
from design to implementation
Jon and Lynne needed help to embark on putting the redesign into practice. The Biodynamic Land Trust, together with very generous support from a local resident with strong connections to the area, provided funds to facilitate this process.
The Biodynamic Land Trust’s chair, Ian Nicholson, said,
“This is a great example of where the Biodynamic Land Trust has been able to provide support in a small way to help the development of an ecologically and financially sustainable farm business, providing healthy food for local people. Old Parsonage Farm’s plans are all about community connected farming and we are delighted to have been able to help Jon and Lynne begin to put them into action.”
The vulnerability of our current food systems has been exposed by the Covid-19 crisis. The UK’s exit from Europe also means that we will be reshaping our agricultural system. There is an urgent need, and a great opportunity, to establish more innovative farms like Old Parsonage Farm. Such farms produce healthy food for local communities. We would welcome donations to help us support additional projects seeking to contribute to a more resilient local food system. If you would like to donate you can do so via our website here. Alternatively, please contact us.
Operations Manager, Biodynamic Land Trust