The recent Biodynamic Land Trust AGM was a chance to reflect on the achievements of the previous year and an opportunity to look forward. In view of the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions this year’s meeting was held online via Zoom. Although in many ways more restrictive and less social than a traditional AGM, it did mean that members who would have been unlikely to attend an in-person meeting because of travel or time limitations, were able to do so.
There have been a few changes on the Land Trust Board. Chris Stockdale stepped down as the Custodian Trustee nominee for the BDA and is replaced by Hannah Steenbergen. However, Chris remains on the Board as he was elected independently by members. Gabriel Kaye retired from the Board under Land Trust policy, having served three terms of three years. However, Gabriel remains as Society Secretary. The current Directors are: Ian Nicholson (Chair), Lucas Schoemaker (Vice Chair), Stella Parkes, Hannah Steenbergen and Chris Stockdale.
The meeting heard more about activities at projects on the Land Trust’s land over the last year. These included Huxhams Cross Farm near Totnes in Devon. More polytunnels have gone up and pods introduced so that farming, growing, teaching, farm club, and wellbeing services can do their work. The team developed a local food hub in response to the spring lockdown. This gathered supplies of vegetables, bread, water and more, feeding 200 families a week over a wide local area. After markets re-opened, this settled slightly, but the farm with its partners is still feeding a similar number of families.
Oakbrook Community Farm in Stroud continues to develop under the guidance of Oakbrook Community Benefit Society (OCBS). A long lease with OCBS is now in place. There are new growers, Rosie and Nell, at the Starter Farm and a new zero dig project. Stroud Micro Dairy is milking 13 cows and supplying 230 customers with Ellie’s Eggs and the Bee Observatory complementing the use of the pasture land. All-weather tracks are being introduced and OCBS has also obtained planning permission for a new barn.
While the Land Trust is in ‘Stewardship mode’, primarily looking after our existing projects, we continue with our development work. This includes providing support to farms considering succession issues, in particular through Associate Membership. This is a way of a farm building connection with the Land Trust over a period of time. We also receive many enquiries from new initiatives and continue to offer support and guidance.
The Land Trust is also developing a new five-year strategy. This aims to secure more land for biodynamic farming and growing and in particular, to work with the Biodynamic Movement as a whole to respond to the many challenges of our times. Biodynamics has much to offer in terms of addressing the impacts climate change through regenerative farming to secure long-term food supply. The Land Trust looks forward to playing its role in meeting this important objective.