In 2013, Ian Wilkinson of Cotswold Seeds achieved his long-time goal: to buy a farm that could be used for trials, demonstrations and education to support sustainable farming practices
As 2019 draws to a close, Ian’s dream is now a reality. Situated near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, Honeydale Farm is around 43ha (just over 100 acres) with both permanent pasture and arable land–and is the home of FarmED, an exciting new food and farming educational initiative.
Based around the working farm, FarmED will provide an inspirational place for groups to share knowledge on the crucial link between good food and good farming, with crop rotation and trial plots, natural flood management, woodland and wildlife habitats, livestock, orchard and apiary.
A Fantastic Educational Centre
The FarmED site is still under development, but the main building–which can be used for lectures/conferences–is almost complete (the last time SWFC were there the builders were resolving the final “snagging” points!) and the kitchen/food area is not far behind. It will be a truly fantastic venue for future events of all kinds.
The iconic Cotswold stone walls had all fallen into a state of disrepair
The land management on the farm has also changed a lot since 2013. The previous owners used the arable land continuously for malting barley, with the permanent pasture let to a neighbouring cattle farmer. Ian has retained two plots of continuous barley as a benchmark against the diverse crops and herbal leys that he has introduced. The iconic Cotswold stone walls dividing the arable fields had all fallen into a state of disrepair (above), and Ian had just started to get these rebuilt by the time SWFC first visited early in 2019.
SWFC was delighted to have been selected to work with the FarmED team to do the Basic Payment Scheme application, but we could see there was an opportunity for a Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship agreement. Once the BPS was dealt with we came back to discuss options for revenue and capital grants under Mid-Tier.
FarmED manager, Jonty Brunyee (left) and Tom Tolputt discuss FarmED’s Countryside Stewardship options
The development of a Mid-Tier application was a good opportunity to discuss options for cropping, margins and boundary work that Ian and incoming FarmED manager, Jonty Brunyee, were hoping to undertake. The increase in bird numbers since Cotswold Seeds took on Honeydale Farm has been notable, so options to provide winter birdseed were high on the list. The full repair of stone walls could also be included in capital works, along with fencing against both mature and newly planted hedgerows to make the boundaries stock proof.
Can We Help?
The process we went through with the FarmED team was exactly the same as we do with all clients who are seeking to apply for Stewardship. We develop a suite of options that match the aims of the farm and for which they can receive payment. It’s a win-win situation: the farm gets both revenue and capital payments for work they want to do, and this work delivers a positive environmental outcome and public good.
Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about similar options and opportunities on your farm. Visit our Contact Page.