We would like to thank the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for providing much-needed funding to support the farm for 2017-8. Their generous funding supports us in developing new income streams as we work towards financial sustainability.
Unlike other, larger farm enterprises, the Oak Tree Farm does not receive any subsidies from central government (DEFRA) as we are deemed to be too small. This means that we struggle to meet the costs of growing food and need to look at other ways of bringing in income to the farm – and we are not alone in this struggle – it is the same for many other small farms too.
There is much discussion, research and work being carried out to inform and shape the UK government’s agricultural policy post-Brexit. One organisation actively involved at the forefront of this is the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).
The RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission is a major two year inquiry, funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and in the RSA’s Food, Farming & Countryside Prospectus it was revealing to read that:
“While farms have invested in increasingly specialist methods and equipment for cropping or animal husbandry, their businesses have diversified. Leisure and accommodation, environmental management and renewable energy production have grown. Diversified activity accounts for over a fifth of farm business income, and more than a third on small farms”.
To generate more than one third of the Oak Tree Farm’s business income from diversified activities is a big ask. But we need to generate income from non-food activities in order to survive. The last few years at the farm has taught us this.
We hope that post-Brexit Agricultural Policy in the UK will recognise the value of organic small-scale farming and actively support this sector – and importantly – that the Government will recognise and support farms that are below 5 Hectares in size when these farms are actively improving the soil/soil ecology, encouraging wildlife, providing high quality food to local people and reconnecting people with the land where their food is grown.
Finally, we are grateful to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for the much-needed support they have given to the Oak Tree Farm in previous years too.