St Anthony’s Trust
caring for the future
St Anthony's Trust owns most of the land and buildings on which Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Farms operate and rents these to the two farm businesses. This enables the two farms to farm biodynamically. This underpins our charitable aims of furthering education and training in biodynamics for new farmers and growers, schoolchildren and the general public.
The education and training activities include (1) Visits by school children and college students to the farms (regular attendees include the local schools), (2) Apprenticeship and staff development programmes in all aspects of farm and garden work – Four apprentices are registered for a 2-year structured programme leading to a level 3 qualification, (3) Training for staff in social care for the residents with learning disabilities (Tablehurst Farm) and (4) Farm and garden walks led by volunteers and/or farm staff.
St Anthony's Trust would like there to be more land available for biodynamic cultivation within their community and is always open to working with others to serve this aim.
The other area of their work is to provide accommodation for the elderly and they are currently working with other groups on a project to convert Pixton House at Emerson College into a co-housing scheme. The Trust is also working with Tablehurst Farm to provide a retirement home for Peter Brown, the farmer who established Tablehurst as a community-owned biodynamic farm back in the 1990s.
Biodynamics, as originally set out in Rudolf Steiner’s series of lectures on agriculture given in 1924, offers a way of farming that connects the individual with the land, the community and a sustainable future. In our turbulent times, this becomes ever more important.
Both Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch are biodynamic farms. A biodynamic farm functions as a strong, self-sustaining and vibrant single organism that recognises and respects the basic principles at work in nature. It is a complete system in which all the different components of the farm are seen as parts of a greater whole. With farm animals at the centre, a self-sustaining, balanced and harmonious environment is the result.
Special manure and herb-based preparations are applied to the fields and compost to enhance and stimulate the microbiological life in the soil and improve fertility. These have been shown to significantly improve the health and well being of soil, plant and animal as well as enhancing the vitality, flavour and keeping qualities of the produce for the benefit of the consumer. With the soil sequestering up to 25% more carbon than conventional farming methods, the health of the planet is also cared for. Biodynamics is a sound basis for sustainable food production.
Further to this the biodynamic farmer recognises that the life of a farm is exposed to wider as well as to internal farm-based influences. The more subtle rhythms associated with the sun, the moon and the planets form the basis of an annually produced planting calendar. This guides the farmer towards appropriate times for cultivation and sowing for maximum quantity and quality.
The result is a rich and diverse farm built on sound organic principles that is embedded and sensitised to its surroundings. It produces food with such an individual quality that, as with wine, it can be described as having the ‘terroir’ of the farm – the sense of the place where it was grown.