Hapstead Farm Community Interest Company (C.I.C.)* was set up earlier this year as an Alternative Provision (AP) to provide children/ adults, who experience barriers to learning
and mental health issues, with the opportunity to take a major role in the activities associated with running a 60 acre mixed biodynamic/ organic farm and associated traditional rural skills. The land based experiential learning supports the development of personal resilience, independence, teamwork, and citizenship, as well as a deeper connection with and responsibility for nature and the biodiversity of the planet.
Hapstead Farm has a 30 year history of sustainable farming combined with social work, and is located near Buckfastleigh.
Since last summer work has begun on converting the land to biodynamic/ organic farming. Among the new arrivals are a herd of North Devon Cattle, a flock of Shetland sheep, and Saddle-Back pigs. Draft horses will eventually be used for the majority of the farm work. The produce will be sold to the local community through a CSA scheme (Community Supported Agriculture).
Director and tenant farmer Tobias Goulden has twelve years experience of managing a 100 acre mixed organic farm in South Devon following a two year apprenticeship in biodynamic agriculture.
For the last five years he has focused on working with children and young adults in schools where he has supported the outdoor curriculum in groups of mixed ability pupils between the ages of 8-16. Prior to takingup the tenancy at Hapstead, he established a small holding in Buckfastleigh for Cambian School (ongoing) to provide experiential learning for children with SEMH ( social, emotional, and mental health needs), who have been excluded from mainstream schools.
As part of his professional development, he has recently completed a Practical Skills Teacher Development course run by Pyrites an organisation furthering the development of living and working with nature, with the emphasis on outdoor learning through rural/ traditional crafts.
Director Jo Clark has been working for many years as a land based educational facilitator and currently works as an outdoor consultant and founder / facilitator at On The Hill, a charitable enterprise offering land based residential courses.
Director Mike Rees-Lee has been a teacher for 18 years in a variety of schools most recently a head teacher for children who have been excluded from mainstream. He says, ‘All young people at this end of the education spectrum have experienced trauma, so focusing on recovery from trauma is a primary need.’
A founding member is Dr. Stephen Felmingham, with twenty years experience in teaching across varied educational settings including further and higher education. He is a Trustee of Millbay Academy in Plymouth and is committed to social inclusion and educational provision to diverse communities.
Hapstead Farm C.I.C. directors and members represent the coming together of significant experience in agriculture, education, and project management to support this initiative, at a time of particular challenge to vulnerable communities and the environment.
We need to raise funds in order that the farm can function as a fully productive biodynamic entity, that is then able to offer meaningful work.Key to the initial development is the acquisition of a small tractor, farm machinery, and a working horse.
Tractor (with front loader) £15000; Farm implements: mower, hay turner, small baler, vegetable precision drill, £5000; Draft Horse £2000, working harness £750, Kassine, french horse drawn multi tool for vegetable production £3,250.
All those who make a donation will be offered seasonal updates on the initiative and will be invited to visit the farm and to free events such as seasonal festivals, biodynamic preparation making, and draft horse demonstrations.
*A community interest company is a business with social objectives whose surpluses are reinvested for that purpose in the business rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners. CICs tackle a wide range of social and environmental issues and operate in all parts of the economy.
For more information please email Tobias: [email redacted].uk
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