Tag Archives: Devon

Christmas gift idea – invest in a farm

Farm school in crocodile formation on sunny fields of Huxhams Cross Farm
Confound Christmas consumerism with a gift for the world! 

Huxhams Cross Farm (above) needs investment and here’s why. In the UK and Europe, small farms are getting swallowed up by big ones – 3% of farms own 52% of EU land.

Ecological farms such as 34-acre Huxhams Cross Farm in Dartington, Devon benefit the bigger picture.

Unlike industrial farms, they practice farming in a virtuous cycle. Every good thing leads to the next.

For instance, the farmers at Huxhams Cross Farm are alleviating climate change by capturing carbon in the soil. Carbon-rich soil is fertile soil full of too-tiny-to-see-with-naked-eye microbial creatures which break down nutrients to feed it to the crops, and build fertility year-on-year.

Fresh biodynamic veg and local food for local delivery near Totnes

As well as alleviating climate change and healing the land with biodynamic farming methods, the farmers (below) are producing healthy nutritious local food. Talk about a win-win-win solution.

Farmers, Marina O'Connell, Bob Mehew and Dave Wright on the land at Huxhams Cross Farm

Apricot Centre co-directors and farmers Marina O’Connell and Bob Mehew (centre), joined by their grower, Dave Wright. [IMAGE: Beccy Strong]. 

Tenanted by sustainability experts (above), the Apricot Centre, Huxhams Cross Farm has two cows, Damson and Daffodil, and a mobile flock of 100 White Leghorn chickens (below) whose biodynamic eggs are much in demand.

White leghorn chickens at biodynamic Huxhams Cross Farm

Human-scale farms do more than produce good food. Along with a band of volunteers, Huxhams Cross Farm has raised a barn, and planted over 3,000 trees and over 2,000 soft fruits plants using permaculture design methods, building community with purposeful activity. 

The farm grows wheat for local flour and trees for Dartington’s agroforestry  project which is pioneering ways to make farming viable. Not to mention the  farm’s weekly farm clubs and local food delivery service. 

Huxhams Cross Farm has got this far thanks to community investment through  Biodynamic Land Trust not-for-profit community shares. (Am the charity’s communications manager, she says, declaring an interest).

Now the developing farm needs further investment to build an on-farm centre for many worthwhile purposes. 

Preserves made by the Apricot Centre

The low-carbon centre will offer a kitchen for farm-to-fork cookery activities for children and adults, as well as jams, juices and chutneys production. It will be a training space for permaculture and biodynamic farming methods and a base for the Apricot Centre’s well-being service for vulnerable families.

Invest in Biodynamic Land Trust community shares for Huxhams Cross Farm to build this centre.

Do you know you can also invest in community shares on behalf of others, including children? Once you have invested, the Biodynamic Land Trust will send your recipient a card, followed by a share certificate in the name of the shareholder to be transferred to the recipient’s name when they reach 16. If they are interested they may also receive quarterly updates from the farms by email or post.

Together we can change the world for the better, one farm at a time.

The Owl Vegan Café

Vegan Owl painted shopfront

Barnstaple, North Devon’s main town, now has a vegan ‘caff’ down Maiden Street (an alley filled with pirates’ ghosts, I wager).

Opened in December (pic above added in March), the Owl Vegan Café serves dishes that make me happy such as braised tofu with roasted carrots and three greens.

I am not a vegan because I love organic cream, cheese and fried eggs.

But not in excess. Too much dairy and I end up hallucinating cows and butter churns (thank you, Raymond Briggs). My body has a tantrum and gives me a runny nose – a classic sign of dairy sensitivity.

Luckily I love eating plant foods. For some reason, when I am munching on brown rice (with olive oil and fried garlic) or my favourite vegetables, I feel soothed as I eat.

That’s how I felt eating the trio of spring greens, kale and spinach. Grown in nearby Tapeley Park with organic principles, they were served braised.

I confess I do a lot of butter-smothering to my veg – need to know more about this vegan alternative.

I love an eatery with something to read. I read a witty gritty piece by Andrew Murray in the Morning Star. I liked it because it agrees with my (anti-war and dubious about Nick Cohen from the Observer) point of view.

I had to order a vegan trifle to celebrate.

The Bird’s custard was made with soya milk, the vegetarian lemon jelly crystals were from Just Food and the fruit was real and fresh cut-up cherries, kiwi, and juicy pineapple. Kind of healthy kid’s food.

Time to catch my bus to the Atlantic sea coast. I strode off feeling light.