The last few weeks, since announcing the Save The Oak Tree Crowdfunding Campaign (to be launched in about a week’s time -we’re now busy preparing the video, the rewards for pledges, the campaign webpage etc, etc…) have felt tough. It is a bit like taking your clothes off in public, saying that something had gone wrong with a beloved project, and that if we don’t raise enough money, it will have to be shut down.
But that really isn’t what the #SavetheOakTree campaign is all about. No, the whole project, the whole dream of producing good food, while caring for the environment, and the community of people involved, is above all a message of hope and optimism.
Why on earth would growers Eric, John and myself work very long hours on low wages (even if the crowdfunding is successful we’re only seeking the minimum wage) in extremes of weather and often physical discomfort? Why do our lovely farm members come and join us to help with the endless tasks on the farm, as well as offering encouragement and support in countless other ways? The answer, of course, is because we believe in what we are doing (and hopefully, on balance, we enjoy all it!)
So, in this post, I am going to focus on the positive. The Sunlit Uplands of the Future, where the farm’s future is secure and our harvests more productive, and the farm infrastructure less rudimentary! That is why we are campaigning to #SavetheOakTree because it will see us through this rough patch to …. now these advances won’t happen straight away, but they most definitely form an important part of our plans for the future!
The soil will be far better and more productive.
We are trialling the amazing methods of soil life scientist Dr Elaine Ingham to improve our soil, as well as using mob stocking methods on our pasture with our two bullocks. Not only with this improve our yields, it will also sequester very significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere into the soil. These are just two of the array of methods that we are using to restore our soil which had been depleted by decades of Industrial Agriculture.
The Forest Garden will have matured
Our cultivated “edible young woodland”, which has been planted over the first few years of the farm, will be producing plentiful orchard fruit, soft fruit and perennial leaves, all while supporting the environment! A huge percentage of fruit eaten in the UK is imported, but this really is daft (a result of crazy policy incentives).
The farm will have a beautiful community building, complete with area for members to relax, space to welcome courses and visitors, a proper kitchen which will enable us to produce value added products from our harvest, and simple accommodation for farm apprentices, not to mention proper composting toilets! At present we are working on a feasibility study – sadly endless rules, regulations and goodness knows what else make it all terribly complicated, but we are making definite progress/
Our cut flower business will be thriving!
British cut flowers are very popular, and we are currently seeking the best ways to market our expanded cut flower harvest. Once we’ve learned the best way to go about this for us, we’ll have a healthy, and ecological, income stream for the farm. Most cut flowers are imported, heavily doused in chemicals, and some are the result of dubious labour practices. Needless to say, ours are grown without chemicals, and are grown right here in Suffolk!