Put simply, Jackie and her family have grown the families dream of creating a beautiful example of an old fashioned mixed farm. The design of the systems and elements at Chestnuts Farm is also based on the principles and ethics of permaculture. Many other regenerative agriculture techniques and tools are also used in their work there.
* Swales to manage excess of water at times, drought at others.
* Chickens and ducks
* Training a very small pony as a draft pony for work on the land
* Mob Grazing Jacob sheep
* Dairy products for family use from the small herd of goats
* Selling Chestnut Farm lamb and eggs to the local community.
* Using Jacob sheep wool for hand made crafts (spinning, cushions)
* Home educating the girls to the ages of 10 and 12 to be fully immersed in farm life
* Teaching/education projects with a local school about the work on the farm
* Education to and networking with the global community via a great website and blog
Over the years using permaculture and regenerative farming tools and knowledge has made the following huge differences -
* The soil, grass and other flora and fauna on the farm has hugely improved by the use of mob grazing and many of the other elements listed.
* Jackie and the rest of the family fully connect and integrate their spiritual life with their farming one which is incredibly important to them.
* Its helped to give Jackie and Neil’s daughters the lifestyle and education they had hoped for the girls, both of who are now planning to go to Agricultural Universities and hopefully take their experience of learning and growing up on Chestnuts Farm further.
* How the family manages life’s challenges as they occur has become more focused, solutions are explored and put into place.
Plans for the future at Chestnuts Farm include
* Working to improve the soil even further then re-visiting a design for the Market Garden - Exploring the possibilities of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Project, or having a stall at the local Farmers Market.
* Further educational schemes (work with preschool aged children)
* Hosting volunteer helpers (and learners no doubt) on the farm.
* For the farm to be a profitable business, without the need for employment away from the land.
Jackie’s main vision for the future of the farm, (and for regenerative agriculture in general), and one she is very firm about, is that much of the knowledge and skill we gain from our farming Elders is crucial to the success of how permaculture design can thrive at farm scale. She wants to ensure that the work and example of Chestnuts farm is primarily in mainstream agriculture. Within this the Bridgens are passionate about promoting the need to make more land accessible to more people, through about tenant farming, to enable a major difference to how we produce our food.
Resources mentioned by Jackie in her interview
'The More with Less Cookbook', by Doris Janzen Longacre
'Living More with Less' also by Doris Janzen Longacre
'Extending the Table', by Joetta Handrich Schlabach
‘The Farming Ladder' by George Henderson
Anything by John Seymour but particularly ‘Bring me my bow’ and ‘ the Fat of the Land’ - (my personal favourite is his classic 'The New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency')
Resources linked to Goodreads for reviews - don't forget you can support your local bookshop by ordering titles from them.
Photos all by Chestnuts Farm
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