John Channon is Estate Manager at Dartington. His Food & Farming blogs provide updates and insight into how Dartington uses its land to meet our commitments to community projects and sustainable farming.
John joined Dartington in 2009, having previously spent over 20 years working with the National Trust as a Property Manager in Devon. He holds a wealth of experience in the practical implementation of land based initiatives. More blogs from John
Last month I gave a brief overview of the Land Use Review and the procedure which we were adopting for the re-letting of Old Parsonage Farm.
Since then, considerable interest has been shown and our agents, Smiths Gore, have sent out over 160 sets of letting particulars. We held our first viewing day at the farm at the beginning of May, which attracted approximately 20 interested parties.
A further viewing day was held this week, with another dozen or so individuals and groups visiting.
Whilst some of those having a look around were locally based, several had travelled from much further afield and had stayed the night before at Dartington. (There is one more viewing day which will be held at the end of May.)
I think that it is fair to say that our aspirations to use the farm to test new forms of sustainable farming and provide land-based learning are both challenging and ambitious, so we accept that finding a tenant who is able to meet all of these aspirations is a ‘big ask’.
However, I was genuinely impressed with not only the lateral thinking that many of those visiting employed to tackle some of the issues, but also the amount of background research that they had undertaken and the good level of understanding that they had about Dartington as a whole and the style of farming that is going to be required.
One particular subject which almost everyone wanted to explore and discuss was the requirement on the tenant to establish 50 acres of Agroforestry.
This is where there was the greatest variance in both understanding of the topic, and the many ways in which it can be approached. I will go into this in more detail in next month’s blog.
In the meantime, I am very confident that we will receive several well thought-out tenders and anticipate that we might find ourselves having to make some difficult choices!
John Channon – Estate Manager