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Spring awakening

New season, new opportunities

New season, new opportunities

Rush Farm welcomes springtime with lambing day and the chance to learn more about biodynamic farming.

“We hope it continues to inspire others the way that this land has completely captured our imaginations”

Sebastian Parsons, Stockwood Community Benefit Society

Flooding the land with colour, form and scent; springtime is the season of new beginnings.

After the long (and wet) winter, Rush Farm, near Redditch opens its doors to celebrate springtime with the public, where the highlight is the chance for many people to bottle feed new-born lambs.
Lambing day at Rush Farm is expected to attract hundreds of people, with previous years showing an enormous turn out for people to learn more about how the farm is run and sample the local produce.

Lambs smallerThis isn’t the only time that Rush Farm has engaged with the local public – what makes the farm different from others is that it recently moved from private ownership to community ownership. Currently, 233 individual investors form this ownership. Sebastian Parsons who is Chief Executive of Stockwood Community Benefit Society which operates Rush Farm and Stockwood Business Park, says this change opens the gates for local people to reconnect with both the natural and agricultural worlds.

Sebastian said: “We transferred the land we love into community ownership to preserve it as a showcase of biodynamic farming forever. Our investors are joint owners and we welcome the chance to show them the impact their money is making when we open our doors for lambing days, summer fetes and other events.”

The farm produces 30 acres of cereals, pasture for livestock and organic vegetables on heavy clay soils which have been revitalised with herb-based preparations, special manures and compost to stimulate microbiological soil life. There is a rich abundance of biodiversity whilst a local beekeeper and hedgehog rescue centre operate on the farm.

“Rush Farm is very much connected to the community, not only as a local producer but as a home to incubate smaller horticultural and social projects. Community ownership has made this farm more accessible to local stakeholders beyond those who own a share, and in the future we will create more opportunities for people to connect with the land, including a number of educational projects.”

Many businesses operate from Stockwood Business Park, the old converted farm buildings on Rush Farm, and this year Stockwood Community Benefit Society is looking to purchase a renewable heat plant to serve ground heat (and cool) to the 100 people working in the business units.

“Stockwood blends commercial property with conservation on organic land, and now it incorporates a significant renewable energy programme. With 250 members investing we are clearly making sense to people, and with more social engagement programmes to come this is a project that is really starting to buzz!” says Sebastian.

The story of Rush Farm begins on another farm, also in Worcestershire, called Broome Farm, bought in 1933 by Sebastian’s grandfather, David Clement, a pioneer of Britain’s organic movement. As well as the family home, Broome Farm was the Biodynamic Agricultural Association’s headquarters for over half a century.

“Rush Farm is very much connected to the community, not only as a local producer but as a home to incubate smaller horticultural and social projects. Community ownership has made this farm more accessible to local stakeholders beyond those who own a share, and in the future we will create more opportunities for people to connect with the land, including a number of educational projects.”

Sebastian Parsons, Stockwood Community Benefit Society

Sold in the 1980s, Broome Farm vanished from organic and biodynamic management. It is this loss which has driven the Parsons’ family to secure Rush Farm’s sustainable future.

“After Broome Farm was sold, secret resolutions were made to one day buy it back. Of course, we never did buy Broome Farm back, but when we purchased Rush Farm, we realised we had achieved our aim – we had fulfilled our commitment to the land.”

After he and his sisters opened up the farm for community ownership, Sebastian noted that the next stage was channelling their passion with the next generation.

“For new people to practice biodynamic farming, they need to be involved in the whole process and understand the benefits – and we are providing those opportunities, and we hope it continues to inspire others the way that this land has completely captured our imaginations.”

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