Glastonbury Food & Regenerative Farming Centre
The vision for the Glastonbury Food and Regenerative Farming Centre is to support the regeneration of land through the use of agroecological and agricultural practices such as permaculture, natural agriculture and agroforestry.
This ethos of restoring and maintaining balance with our ecosystem is the essential focus of our times. By drawing from the wisdom that is already present in our local community we will show and share this journey, working sensitively with our environment to produce nutrient-rich, abundant food crops and providing a host of other health-giving benefits to boot!
The intention to restore a harmonious connection to the land and each other will promote much-needed cultural narratives around how to work well together and live in balance with the world at large. The project will give our community the opportunity to share skills and expertise and become more proficient at growing food whether on the farm or at home.
Positive outcomes will be improved mental well-being, a reduction in food poverty and a happier, healthier and more connected community.
- Establish a place to research and develop an approach for individual, community and national learning by connecting small-scale agriculture and health and wellbeing.
- Provide opportunities to bring about social inclusion for vulnerable or marginalised groups.
- Create a thriving local restorative and regenerative carbon-retaining food economy.
- Promote a holistic approach to well-being for land, human and animal symbiosis by keeping carbon in the soil, reducing chemical usage, restoring habitats to support wildlife, and creating a flourishing ecosystem through restorative and regenerative practices.
- Provide multi-choice training, learning, up-skilling, skill sharing and job opportunities through the delivery of grassroots to mainstream qualifications in a community-led educational research centre, demonstrating natural methods for managing land and growing food.
Community Food Production
As farmers all over the globe face the impossible task of reducing their nitrogen dependency almost overnight it looks increasingly likely that we will see global food shortages in the short to medium term. Community farms are one answer to this crisis that calls for more stable, small-scale local food production. What better way to get low-cost, healthy produce locally grown without the need for chemical fertilisers?
Statistics show that the UK is 93% self-sufficient in the production of carrots (our second biggest fresh food export) but otherwise we rely upon imports for over half of the fruit and vegetables consumed. Glastonbury, despite its rural setting, can only currently produce enough fresh produce for 10% of its population.
The Glastonbury Food and Regenerative Farming Centre will dramatically increase the capacity for the town to be food resilient on an organically certified 20-acre site. Including polytunnels, greenhouses, crops and a variety of community-supported agroecology projects whilst supporting visitors to go really green and grow at home.
Physic Garden and Apothecary
Comprising multiple outdoor and covered educational spaces, a herbal clinic and apothecary, and a medicine garden with a diverse array of healing, crafty and culinary herbs this particular environment will be perfectly inspired towards personal and community healing and sanctuary with a focus on connection with our native herbs and trees.
Bridie’s Physic Garden project will be guided by a team of local herbalists who will gather local expertise and establish a range of seasonal, interactive classes such as foraging, wild crafting, medicine and incense making, plant-inspired storytelling and many more. This will be an experiential therapy centre for deepening our relationship with all things wild and beautiful and an immersive natural paradise for visitors of any age.
What is Agroecology?
- Agroecology means working with nature to create food sovereignty and giving the right to peoples and communities to maintain their own spiritual and material relationship to their Iands.
- A way of life and the language of nature that we learn as her children. It is not a mere set of technologies or production practices. It can be practised in many different ways whilst always maintaining respect for Mother Earth and our common shared values.
- Based on ecological principles such as building life Into the soil, recycling nutrients, promoting biodiversity and energy conservation at all scales. It drastically reduces our use of externally-purchased inputs that must be bought from industry, eliminating the use of pesticides, artificial hormones & GMOs.
- Developed through our innovations and promoted through community knowledge sharing, recognising that humans are a part of nature and the cosmos and that we share a spiritual connection with our lands and with the web of life.
- Often leads to collective self-organization and action, building community empowerment through local food systems, challenging corporate control of our food system, and promoting community solidarity and self-governance.
Agriculture and care go hand-in-hand. Green care initiatives can be described as innovative nature-based services that improve a person’s quality of life. Care Farming is a front runner to the Green Care movement with the first initiatives being set up in the 1600s by Monastic asylums, then resurrected in the 1960s and ’70s by enthusiastic pioneers working in the care sector, Its success is well documented, providing vulnerable, handicapped or isolated individuals with a place to connect and feel valued within their communities. Green Care operates from these same observations, recognising that our involvement in society and access to nature are huge underpinnings to the state of our health and wellbeing.
“The recovery of the people is tied to the recovery of food. Since food itself is medicine – not only for the body but also for the soul and the spiritual connection to history, ancestors, and the land!”Winona LaDuke
Glastonbury’s Food and Regenerative Farming Centre will partner with local social care organisations to offer a wide range of opportunities, including social prescribing and outreach programmes. One vision is to bring the wisdom of old and young together in educational food growing and forest school settings. The full scope of this will be realised as the project establishes itself and there are adequate facilities to comfortably support visitors with particular needs.
“The Elders were wise. They knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to a lack of respect for humans, too”Chief Luther Standing Bear
Bridie’s Farm is partnered with Feed Avalon, a local CIC who are already offering a host of local free and affordable food growing, healthy eating and cooking-based courses. This project will expand the variety and scope of existing community-based learning, partnering with local colleges and national universities to bring additional experience and skills to the fore.
From grassroots to mainstream qualifications, the farm will establish an educational and research centre that is responding to the challenges that we face in today’s society. From demonstrating natural methods for managing land and growing food to designing and constructing environmentally friendly, flood-resilient educational spaces and responding to the mental and physical health crisis that we are only just beginning to understand.
“The majority believes that everything hard to comprehend must be very profound. This is incorrect … The highest wisdom is simple and passes through the brain directly into the heart”Viktor Schauberger
By growing a holistic education platform for all ages, this project will create strands of learning and teaching that are fitting for the new landscape that is emerging. By building the curriculum together and sharing what works, we will create stronger and more resilient communities, informed by the balance of nature, and be better equipped to support the health and vitality of the land and all of its inhabitants for generations to come.
The Barn Construction Project
As the first building to be constructed at Bridie’sFarm, the barn will be particularly important, being designed primarily for traditional farm use: storage of produce, materials and machinery. As the first big, dry space it will have a variety of uses while other parts of the farm are developed. It will become the Hub of the farm project from which the energies to empower the growth of this essentially educational project will initiate.
There will be a number of both traditional and modern alternative building techniques used and each stage of construction will be organised as a workshop for our wider community, primarily aimed at yöung people in need of vocational impartial and hands-on practical experience. The back of the building will face north and away from the sewage pumping station, and the south side will be open and welcoming, as befits any community centre.
This barn is not just a functíonal building but much more an expression of a creative process providing space for community use and as such, is a very real alternative to the industrial steel barns seen as a virtually everyday form in our countryside.
Permaculture and Spiritual Ecology
In 1978, Bill Mollison, the Tasmanian son of a fisherman coined and defined the term permaculture as:
“The harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way”
In other words, Permaculture describes an intrinsically organic, natural and balanced way of life. Or, people living in harmony with the landscape that surrounds them.
Spiritual Ecology takes this one step further and binds matter with spirit saying that there is no separation, all is connected: humans, nature, hearts and minds.
When we look at the etymology of the word Gaia we find that Gaea is a compound word of “Ge” meaning “Earth” and “Aia” meaning “grandmother” Our ancient studies in Gaia-ology, saw no separation into the compartments of science such as physics, genetics, chemistry etc and therefore it was easy to believe and behave as if All on Earth was one living entity. There seems an inherent truth to this ancient view that is forever signalling and reminding us that we are one family, working through our differences, building bridges back to wholeness. Bruce Lipton puts this so brilliantly:
“There is a fundamental biological imperative to be in a community, to be in relationship with other organisms”
By embodying this perspective and knowing ourselves to be an essential human organ within the body of the Earth we will naturally adapt our behaviours and evolve into an emotionally intelligent culture living in harmony with the landscape that surrounds us.
This calling for “at-one-ment” with our natural state will bring more people back to the Earth in a practical way through agricultural, creative and healing communities. This will, in turn, provide more visceral experiences for us to instinctively recall our connection to and influence upon Everything and know what is healing and enriching to the plants, the soil, the animals and all of life.
The Story So Far…
This vision has blossomed from within the Red Brick Community Garden and is the product of feedback received over 10 years of cultivating a verdant oasis on an old industrial site. The staff and volunteers there have been hosting workshops with and for the wider community in partnership with Feed Avalon, Bridie’s Yard, The ZigZag and other local grassroots initiatives. The focus has always been on growing and preparing healthy food and supporting healthy relationships with the land and each other. It is as though the dreams and visions that have been shared through these thousands of interactions needed more space in which to grow. The Town’s Fund was the obvious opportunity through which to realise them.
Where we are now…
The project and the fund needed to be administered by a long-standing community enterprise – The Red Brick Building – and the small team on the ground are entrusted to establish the vision, which they have mapped out during this recent 2-year business planning phase. After the next 5 year set-up period, the entire project and its assets will transition to a community-owned, members-based organisation.
On the horizon…
There is so much to play with here. This winter will see the first growing beds being developed so if you would like to be part of the Bridie’sFarm Community or the activity mailing list please send your contact details to:
For further updates, please visit www.bridiesfarm.org.uk (currently under construction) and we will bring you updates here also. You can also download this information in PDF format to view at your leisure.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.