St Giles Farm

 The very first look onto St Giles’ Farm already gives you a feeling of love and care. Claudia and Eden warmly welcomed us onto their land and spoke with passion and commitment about the developments, challenges, and dreams for this piece of paradise on the edge of the New Forest. Their 30-acre holding – relatively small as far as farms go, but quite a sizable piece of land for this area – is a home to a flock of Shetland sheep, a herd of Shetland cattle, some horses, and an incredibly diverse host of insects, reptiles, birds, and wild mammals. 

People and History 

Eden and his family have a long history in the organic and biodynamic movement. His grandfather, a descendant of a renowned local Quaker family and medical doctor by training, was one of the founding members of the Soil Association. Upon his return to the area of his childhood back in 1938 he proceeded to pioneer organic farming practices and holistic medicine, as well as social forms. The dedication to organic was carried forward by Eden’s mother, a passionate market gardener, and for a time his uncle, a farmer. Determined to forge their own path, they secured a slice of land, a domain of their own, separate from the family’s New Forest property, which was increasingly governed by the family company rather than themselves. Thus, in 1984 Eden and his mother brought life to the 8-acre smallholding in, which now partly forms the market garden part of St Giles farm. 

Eden’s mother took the organic legacy further and ventured into biodynamics. Having learned about the importance of the cow in the biodynamic farm organism, the family bought their first heifer – a Dexter. In the following years, the family grew vegetables for the local community, reared cattle, developed a biodynamic ornamental plant nursery, and tended to the land with genuine care and affection.

The Farm and BDLT 

St Giles’ farm is an Associate Farm of the Biodynamic Land Trust. In 2017, when the opportunity arose to acquire the piece of land adjacent to the market garden they already owned, Claudia and Eden started a symbiotic relationship with the Land Trust. This was to make sure the land would be cared for generations after them, as well as protecting their legacy from the capitalist market. The decision to work with the Land Trust came from an understanding that there are shared values between the two, and becoming an associate farm felt like a natural fit. 


Claudia and Eden keep a beautiful flock of Shetland sheep, that are some of the most sociable and trusting sheep I have ever met. While Oat and his companions readily welcome cuddles, the dignified Ouessant ram, Charlie – who is an honorary Shetland – maintains a regal distance. Shetland sheep were decided upon after some research by Claudia. She is keen on their light constitution, sociable nature and the varied colours and markings of this breed, along with the amazingly soft wool that is perfect for knitting. The sheep were brought in to get the beneficial effects of mixed grazing – the sheep graze more evenly than the cows, and not as hard as the horses. All their qualities together make for healthy, regenerative grazing, and Claudia and Eden are increasingly seeing the beneficial effects of the grazing animals in their efforts to re-create some traditional hay meadows on the farm. The pride and joy of the farm, however, is the herd of Shetland cattle. This Northern breed fits the farm well, on account of their small size and docile nature. 

The history of Shetland cattle has been one of a close connection with humans for millennia. In the Shetland Isles, the cattle were kept in close proximity of human habitation. This has left a mark on their temperament, making them naturally sociable and curious. Being a rare breed, it was also recognised that keeping Shetlands will be beneficial to the breed and breeders themselves. The herd is used to human contact and constantly receives attention and affection. The grazing is done in a traditional way, with horses and sheep following the cattle. 

Ancient Grains 

Farming on the fringe of an ancient forest has its perks – Eden used to collect bracken from the forest as bedding for cattle during winter. This, however, was discontinued some years ago, when Demeter standards changed, and the National Parks Authority began to manage the bracken in a different manner. There was now the question of bedding for winter. Eden has always been keen to search for most sustainable ways to farm the land, and he was not interested in importing straw from elsewhere. He started looking into cereals that could be grown on the farm, despite the amount of land being limited. Over the years, he has experimented with different grains such as spring oats, heritage wheat, and rye, and developing varieties that work well on their land. Eden has developed a strain of rye suitable for the farm’s needs by combining and cross breeding varieties of rye from different biodynamic farms across the country and continental Europe. This rye grows a whopping 6-7 feet but retains its uprightness until it is time for cutting. This allows for a good volume of straw to be cut for bedding, even from a small piece of land. 

Surroundings and Local Community 

The farm is situated on the edge of the magical New Forest, known for its free roaming native ponies, ancient woodland and far stretching heathlands. The local community is a mix of old and new – of commoners grazing the open forest with their livestock and keeping that thousand-year-old tradition alive, as well as people coming from urban areas with a desire to live in this beautiful part of the country. The Forest has a long history both environmentally and socially. It is generally recognised in the community that Claudia and Eden are benefiting the land, even if not everyone understands what exactly biodynamic agriculture is. There are three footpaths crossing the farm, and the border is shared with fourteen neighbouring properties, so the land and activities on it are very visible to the community. 

Eden and Claudia have regular volunteers coming to the land to help with a range of activities from hedge planting to herding. The students from the local Waldorf school have come for sessions on the land, and the fantastic volunteers from Fordingbridge Greener Living have helped to plant hundreds of trees for hedgerows. More recently, Claudia and Eden have started working with Flourish in Nature – a new CIC helping people with additional support needs to access the outdoors and develop their skills in land-based work. All these people are an integral part of the farm and its story – Claudia and Eden hold a firm belief that agriculture is in its core a social activity. 

St Giles’ farm stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of organic and biodynamic principles, nurtured through generations. Claudia and Eden’s extraordinary work and commitment have created a haven of community engagement and regenerative farming that not only sustains life but also serves as an educational platform, demonstrating that agriculture, at its heart, is a bridge that connects people, nature, and history. 

Written by: Mari-Liis Nukis is Land Projects Officer, Biodynamic Land Trust 

St Giles Farm website: 


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