My name is Bob Mehew from the Apricot Centre Team, and I will be the volunteer coordinator for the Huxham’s Cross Farm project. I very much enjoy showing people around the farm, and getting the type of jobs done that are far better together – potato harvests, weeding, planting out vegetable seedlings and the like.
My work with Bennison Farm, another Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm project in Essex, brought me in to contact with volunteers, coordinating workdays and helping with social events. It is always great to see families at volunteer work and social days. The energy children bring to life on the farm, and the joy this brings to the parents seeing them thrive outdoors having a good time in nature and seeing the food growing that they will soon be eating. I’m excited to take on this role as volunteering will be at the heart of this project, and will play a crucial part in embedding the farm into the local community. This we see as an essential part of ensuring a successful farm operation, one that works alongside community to create something very special at Huxham’s Cross.
First I would like to thank all that have been involved in volunteering so far. For their hard work and enthusiasm that has helped us get to this stage. Helping with events on and around the farm such as the farm walk in July and the event ‘Stories and Relationships in the Land at Week’. Publicising the project in and around Totnes. Producing marketing material. Getting the word out there and simply and perhaps most important of all, talking to people. Val, Sarah, Lu Lu, Richard, Wendy, Tania, Anne, and Tudor are just some of the people whose contributions are highly valued.
There will be many opportunities to volunteer as the project begins to gather pace, and I would like to outline just a flavour of the kinds of things that we envisage. From the outset, those who are interested in the design and development of the farm can get involved. We will be asking for views on the design of the farm itself and encouraging ideas for potential projects, via extensive community engagement. We will have plenty of time to do this while we begin the process of building fertility at the farm with green manures, and indeed volunteers can help us at this stage, preparing compost material and herbal mixtures which we can apply over the whole site.
Regular volunteer days on the farm will allow the community to get involved with as much farm life as possible. Whilst the project seeks to create employment and support local people to make living wages to get the majority of its work done, help to complete tree planting, harvesting, weeding, watering and making preserves will be warmly welcomed. Having volunteered myself at many farms, I know well that it is the offer of help and support that volunteers provide that often make the difference between the farm that is constantly struggling to keep on top of things, and the partnership between farm and community that gets a lot of work done and at the same time maintaining the wellbeing and work-life balance of the farmers. It does not all have to be physical labour either. We will create opportunities for willing volunteers to match their skills or abilities. Help with administration, marketing, promotion and selling the produce are just as important to us, and volunteers in these areas can really make a difference.
It won’t be all hard work though. The project wants to celebrate its connection to land and people, and regular seasonal events will be hosted at the farm such as apple days, Halloween, solstice and equinox. Ultimately we want the community to want to spend time on the farm. To work and to play, to deepen their connection to the natural environment and to the food that they eat. I can’t wait to get started.
Huxhams Cross Farm is the community project emerging at land by Dartington. Find out more here