Projects

There are a number of projects we are working on which need your support – financial or in terms of volunteering. While producing more abundant delicious veg for our members every week the main aims of these projects are:

  • Improve working conditions of farmers
  • Rejuvenate the soil
  • Reduce environmental footprint
  • More sustainable organic food production
  • A place for members to build a community

We’re concentrating on Hawkwood at the moment. We are in discussion with the owners of Brentlands on how we can work more closely together and we’re also involved in the development of Oakbrook Farm.

We are currently working on…

As any gardener will know, watering can take up a lot of time. Imagine what it has been like trying to keep the five polytunnels and outdoor veg patch at Hawkwood watered (to say nothing of our other sites at Brentlands, Brookthorpe and Oakbrook) using mains water.

To address this at Hawkwood we have been given £4000+ of funding by the Farming in Protected Places (FiPL) grant. The grant will provide 60% of the cost of four 10,000l water storage tanks, pump, filter and pipe work so that water collected from the barn roof can be distributed automatically by overhead sprinklers. This project will not only save the farmers a lot of time-consuming hard hot work but will also mean that our veg are sufficiently watered. It will also mean that we can rely much less on mains water at Hawkwood, for which we pay approx. £2000 per annum.
Crowdfunding money will be used to fund the other 40% of the cost of the storage tanks and installation.

This project will be partly funded by the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, created by Defra and delivered locally by the Cotswolds National Landscape team.

Anybody who attended the Farm Fest in June may have noticed that the barn roof is something akin to a sieve – the roof has a lot of holes!

The barn is used throughout the year – including to store hay, as a dance floor for Farm Fest and to keep animals and machinery out of the weather. We urgently need to replace the roof that will also be used for rainwater harvesting (see above). And with this in mind we have had a quote for re-roofing and this is likely to occur in Autumn 2022. The cost is likely to be approximately £5000.00.

A new barn roof will not only ensure our hay can be stored in the dry but our farm animals and equipment can be kept out of the rain as well. Crucially, given the hotter summers it will mean that we can harvest much more rainwater to use on our plants for irrigation of our organic vegetables and use the barn for other activities.

We need to raise this money from crowdfunding.

We are currently slowly converting the tunnels into permanent beds and moving to a minimum tillage system. What does this mean and why? The soil in the tunnels is depleted and lacking in structure and much needed soil life. Our plan is to avoid compaction through permanent beds, use more green manures to add nutrients and organic matter as well as keeping the soil covered, and to disturb the soil as little as possible. When we do need to turn a bed in order to plant a new crop, this is when the two-wheel tractor is essential. It allows shallow more precise and less aggressive cultivation of the soil. We will not only use the tractor in the tunnels but in the PYO patch and on the salad patch at Oakbrook, which allows us to avoid using the heavier tractor machinery in these areas.

The Farm Team successfully applied for a grant from the GREAT Project, Gloucs to partially fund the purchase of the two-wheel tractor. We need to raise the rest of the money – approximately £8200 – which will pay for the relevant attachments as well.

At Hawkwood, the farm uses electricity to power the packing shed and fridges and freezers and to power the Roundhouse. We’ve been working with SolarSense on the design of a solar and wind installation to power the Roundhouse, the irrigation pump and the Farm Team’s office. This will likely consist of two rows of ground level solar panels and a small wind turbine and some batteries. There will be a small generator, which will kick in automatically, should the batteries not have sufficient power. We’re already in the process of discussing planning requirements with Stroud District Council and hope to have the panels in place by Spring 2023. The alternative is that we link to the grid at an estimated cost of £15,000.

Amazingly, the Farm Team have relied on one set of tools across the various farm sites. The Team have told us how frustrating it can be to get to a different site to realise that a key tool is on another site. In future, there will be a tool shed at Hawkwood with a full set of the tools needed at Hawkwood. These tools will be housed in a converted container near to the barn. The new tool shed will also be used as a much-needed workshop since we have lost the workshop space at Brookethorpe. This will also free up some space in the Roundhouse, which we plan to return to a Community Building available for rent.

This project will provide a safe and dry central storage point for all tools used at Hawkwood and will hopefully result in a much calmer more efficient Farm Team! We’ll be funding the new tool shed via crowdfunding.

Under the leadership of Farmer Sam in 2015-16 Members of the Farm raised the money for and built the Roundhouse. This was intended as a community facility for hire. Needs must has meant that the Roundhouse has gradually become the office and space for the Farm Team to have their lunch, along with a storage place for harvested veg. We want to return the Roundhouse to community use which we can rent out.

Hence, in future the Farm Team will be housed in a converted container somewhere near the barn. This space will be for the Team to boil a kettle and have their lunch when they want to be in doors as well as doing paperwork. We’re hoping it will have a sink inside for the team to wash their hands and dirty cups! It will also act as the office and in a separate part of the container we’ll store the power from the solar and wind generators.

With the purchase of a new office space for the Farm Team (see above) we want to return to hiring out this beautiful space to community groups. To do this, we want to paint the Roundhouse, improve the power links and complete the cladding. We’ll be applying for grants for this project but will likely need to crowd fund it as well.

In September 2022, we were notified that we had received a Farming in Protected Landscapes award of £7725 as to provide 25 free educational tours before the end of March 2024. These tours will be open to school and community groups and will be focused on introducing local groups to organic farming and the production of local food. If you’d like to be involved in coordinating the tours please contact Sam Bullingham at grower@stroudcommunityagricuture.org. Similarly, if you know a group that would like to visit the farm please contact Sam. This is a fantastic opportunity to inspire young people.

This project will be funded by the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, created by Defra and delivered locally by the Cotswolds National Landscape team.

We’re planning to develop our production by revolutionising our composting process to develop growing medium for the polytunnels and improve soil health. We have got the agreement of our landlords at Hawkwood to build a small hard standing area where composting can occur more efficiently. Three walled bays will be built that are accessible by a tractor. This should result in a lot more useable compost to be available when planting and feeding our organic veg.

We’ll be applying for a grant for the compost facility in Autumn 2022. In the meantime, we need to raise the matched funds. This is a fundamental project necessary for growing our nutritious, delicious and healthy veg that we all enjoy. As a member recently said to a Core Group member – ‘Everytime I collect my veg I feel like I’m collecting my medicine. We are so very lucky to have this.’