Why secure Huxhams Cross farm land in trust?

We founded the Biodynamic Land Trust in 2011 to provide affordable land access for farmers and communities, and to counter threats to the countryside posed by the loss of fertile soil, land speculation, agri-business expansion, family farms going bust. The market turns land into a commodity, not a commons to be cared for.

Yet we also see emerging a vibrant local food movement: farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture, community orchards. People want to re-connect with food, land and place. Hence the need for community-connected farming, guided by agro-ecological and biodynamic farming principles, and a co-operative approach to creating viable land-based enterprises.

We invited you to invest in securing the Huxhams Cross Farm land, a practical step in building a more resilient Totnes food economy. Many people did so with great generosity.  This land is now secure and leased to the Apricot team. The bigger vision is a fertile educational market garden and family farm for biodynamic, permacultural and organic food growing.

Huxhams Cross Farm – story so far

What once was bare land is being transformed by Marina and Mark O’Connell with Bob Mehew of the Apricot Centre, and a wonderful band of volunteers.

The farm is in conversion to biodynamic agriculture and expects to be Demeter-certified by 2018. Its previously mineralised soils are slowly regaining fertility and porosity through green manures and soil-nurturing biodynamic preparations.

The fledgling farm now has planted 900 orchard trees, two acres of soft fruit, and 3,500 agro-forestry trees, has a hundred chickens and two Shetland heifers. It has also raised a new barn, developed access to parking and a weekly box delivery with fellow local farmers, offering vegetables, fruit, eggs, and spring water from Dartmoor, part of its bigger aim to create local jobs and become self-sufficient.

Huxhams Cross Farm – next steps

The Apricot centre needs to install electricity, a water supply and water harvesting and treatment system; it needs a training and wellbeing centre where children, families and students can cook, make juice, learn about the farm and get support for health and wellbeing. The new centre will also be a place for technical on-farm processing of juices and jams, part of Huxhams Cross Farm’s mission to develop a local supply-and-sales network, creating jobs and becoming self-sufficient. 

The Biodynamic Land Trust aims to raise £150,000: to invest £100,000 in farm infrastructure such as the training and wellbeing centre, and to repay £65,000 of interest-free loans used for the land purchase. £35,000 has been raised to date and invested in developing farm infrastructure. Investors can choose whether their investment goes to the farm, and/or the land. People can also make one-off donations, and/or volunteer. Please download the Huxhams Cross Farm community share offer below, become a member, and make biodynamic dreams come true.

Make money do good for Huxhams Cross Farm and invest

Download Huxhams Cross Farm share offer (PDF)

Huxhams Cross Farm Endorsements

child brandishing rhubarb

“This BDLT community purchase of land for people and wildlife friendly farming is the best way to change the world radically and for the better by perfectly acceptable, non-radical means. Go for it!”

–Colin and Ruth Tudge, Campaign for Real Farming and Funding Enlightened Agriculture

“The BDLT meets the urgent need for enabling farmers to gain access to land without the crippling burden of debt, and help build sustainable food systems.”

–Patrick Holden, Patron, Biodynamic Agricultural Association. Founding Director of the Sustainable Food Trust

“Securing the land at Week will ensure that more land is farmed sustainably in South Devon. The productive and education potential of the project is hugely relevant.”

–Martin Crawford, Agroforestry Research Trust, Dartington

“Marina is a horticulturalist who knows the Dartington soil well and can make this Week Land flourish again.”

–Wendy Cook, Nutritionist and author of The Biodynamic Food and Cookbook

Apple Harvest, Schools Project
basket of summer vegetables

“Marina O’Connell and her team have more than 25 years successful experience of creating exceptional food landscapes, some on the Dartington Hall Estate. They are skilled in communicating the concepts of a vibrant local food movement to differing audiences in a variety of ways. Those who know her are eager to welcome her back home…”

–Anne Phillips, Director, Schumacher College (1993-2006)

“I was very excited when I found out that Marina was going to take the plunge and scale up her wonderful work. 36 acres of permaculture designed biodynamic farm led by Marina will be truly awesome. I’ll be supporting it, I hope you can too.The Permaculture association is very keen to see how we can get all the baseline data in place before the project starts so we can monitor progress so we can start to get an excellent case study of what can be achieved with these systems.”

–CEO, Permaculture Association

“I would like to lend my support to the Biodynamic Land Trust and Marina O’Connell of the Apricot Centre towards the proposed lease of land for biodynamic farming at Week, Huxham’s Cross from the Dartington Estate.

As a biodynamic farmer with Demeter certification on my land at Cholwell Farm near Dartington, I believe this to be a highly sustainable way of farming. It is one that not only safeguards and improves the fertility of a farm but also improves and nurtures all the life that lives on and within the land.

I have been growing organically for some 30 years and biodynamically for seven. I have seen with my own eyes what this sensitive and practical approach can bring to both land and community, over and above the excellent products that come forth from the land.

As an endorsement for Marina O’Connell, I have been aware of the School Farm Project at Dartington, which she founded, for many years. I believe it to be a shining star in the Dartington firmament and one that has led by example and helped many people in so many ways.”

–Tom Petherwick, Biodynamic farmer & author, Dartington

Apricot Centre Chickens

Marina O'Connell at The Apricot Centre

“Schumacher College welcomes the addition of a biodynamic farm to the growing cluster of innovative farming approaches developing around Totnes. Our students will benefit greatly from the research and training opportunities which the new farm will offer.”

–Tim Crabtree, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Schumacher College

“If anyone can redeem and heal the Week land, it’s Marina.”

–Matt Harvey, Poet and local resident

“This proposed Week farm connects purposefully with the original aims and objectives of the Elmhirsts. For the earth to flourish in diversity and productivity stewarded by sensitive, intelligent humans – is entirely congruent with the Elmhirts’ vision for a sustainable world. As a local resident, I’ll be delighted when Apricot gets going at Week farm.”

–Chris Salisbury, Founder of Wildwise & Huxham’s Cross resident

“I am excited and encouraged by the Apricot Centre’s wish to create a biodynamic farm on a piece of land in Week. This represents huge faith on the part of the Apricot Centre in the local economy. Their multi use model, blending farming with education, and valued added food processing is the result of many years’ experience and will be a valuable addition to local food systems.”

–Naresh Giangrande, Totnes Transition Network


“This project is a brilliant demonstration of how restoring and enhancing the ecological fertility of land can have huge social and economic benefits for local communities. Re-localising our economies around sustainably productive land, as is the case with Huxham’s Cross Farm, can help provide food security while providing education, training and job opportunities for local people”

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar