Farming Futures

Understanding local challenges and promoting regenerative opportunities for farmers, land owners and land-based businesses.

This project page was established in January 2022 to help widen connections between those interested in soil health, land use, aspects of farming & sustainability. Could lead to learning from one another, arranging talks, farm visits, open farms network; educational projects; connect with Kingston Maurward college for land-based studies; participation at agricultural shows, promoting local producers.

Main contact: Natalie Bourchier  

You can contact Natilie by phone: 07811 346212

or email c/o planetshaftesbury@gmail.com

Natalie is a farmer based in Motcombe, an organiser of the Artemis Festival (to be launched in 2023), and a presenter of This is Alfred’s nature & wildlife programme.

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Scope of the project

  • Regenerative farming approaches, regenerative dairy, soil health, agroecology

  • Trees & hedgerows in the landscape, arboriculture (note Shaftesbury’s Tree Group has a separate project page)

  • Nature networks (being promoted by Mariko Whyte, mariko.h.whyte@gmail.com, who also coordinates projects linked to making our area hedgehog & pollinator-friendly), rewilding

  • Opportunities for young people to move into work on the land

  • Connection to local shows and the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Showground. For 2022 there’s the possibility of participating in their Spring Countryside Show (April 23/24) as well as the G&S Show (17 August).

  • We could also connect to work undertaken as STEAM projects (eg. aquaponics) at Shaftesbury School.

  • Reaching out across the region – we already have links to:  http://vallisveg.co.uk/; https://www.countrysiderestorationtrust.com/bere-marsh-farm; https://www.farmwel.org.uk/; Shaftesbury Homegrown (our local community farm which has a separate project page); the Dorset Climate Action Network (Dorset CAN) - Land Use team and their Girt Big Darzet Hedge campaign (contact julie.leah150@gmail.com).

Current activity

The Showground: On 4th January we received an invitation/request from James Cox (G&S Showground) – please email planetshaftesbury@gmail.com to connect with others shaping a response to this.   

“We are currently working on some large layout changes to the Show so aren’t quite yet in a position to introduce the Environmental Wildlife Garden, that being said we are working on a 5 year plan which includes this, solar panels (office and planning dependant) and planting tree rows on the Showground.

We are running a Spring Countryside Show on Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th April which we are doing Show Gardens at, the only slight issue is that this is in the main centre of the Showground so all gardens have to be returned to grass turf straight after. I don’t know if something temporary and small to demonstrate what can be done would be good? You are of course welcome to have a stand at this Show as well.

It maybe good to demonstrate on the best plants for wildlife? We do have a discussions stage if wish to get involved with that? Please do let me know your thoughts. I am so sorry to add more to your plate by requesting you get involved with a second show of ours.”

 

Vallis Veg & Eco Farm Future Project: we are working in collaboration with Shaftesbury Homegrown to host a day of talks and discussions with Cordelia Rowlatt of Vallis Veg. Likely to be arranged for late February/early March

 

Previous activity:

  1. Planet Shaftesbury hosted a panel discussion ‘Facing the Future: ecological challenges for farmers & landowners’ in November 2019. It was chaired by Matthew Price (then of NFU) and the panelists were Robin Walter (forester), Martin Shallcross (farmer), and ffinlo Costain (C Ex Farmwel). There is a write up on the blog here.

  2. We have previously discussed supporting James Cox in his efforts to establish the green credentials of the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Showground, specifically with an environmental wildlife garden. Working with Greener Gillingham and Hawkers Farm, we mounted a stand over the two days of the G&S Show in August 2021. The focus was to provide engaging activities for children & families visiting the show and provoke conversations about sustainable living / the climate & ecological emergency.

  3. We hosted an online talk by Elaine Spencer-White about the work of the Countryside Restoration trust at Bere Marsh Farm. (blog from November 2020 here)