We are delighted to announce our Regenerative Farming Incubator Programme which will repurpose land on the Dartington estate to support and encourage innovation in farming and food production.

Henri's Field at Dartington Trust

Henri’s Field on the Dartington estate. Image credit: Josh Pratt

Set up with funds from an Esmée Fairbairn Foundation grant, the programme will welcome pitches for agroecological projects on site from students and alumni of our regenerative farming degrees and horticulture residency, as well as local growers interested in resilient, biodiverse, nature-friendly approaches. The aim is to help students, graduates and our broader community to continue to innovate using the knowledge they have gained here, providing a stepping stone through which new, more experimental ideas can be put into practice in a supportive environment. The current climate for young people and new entrants to the farming sector is challenging, and we hope this new programme goes some way towards helping bridge that gap between the need for agroecological, biodiverse approaches, and the generally outdated agricultural landscape. Seven acres of land have been earmarked for the scheme initially, with projects able to start from next spring.

The Trust is based on a 1,200 acre estate in Devon and this new programme builds on almost a hundred years of agricultural innovation, initially instigated by the pioneering rural regeneration initiatives of Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst in the 1920s, and reinvigorated with greater ecological purpose through the learning programmes at Schumacher College. In January this year we launched one of the first degrees in the country purely focused on ecological approaches to agriculture, the MSc Regenerative Food, Farming & Enterprise, and this September we welcome our first undergraduates onto the BSc Regenerative Food & Farming. We also offer Horticulture Residencies, grow a substantial amount of our own food and have our own five-acre agroforestry field which is in practical use by College growers as well as being an integral teaching tool. Our food and farming programmes have developed in collaboration with many of our partners, including the Apricot Centre at Huxham’s Cross Farm, School Farm, Old Parsonage Farm, Riverford and many others.

Pavel Cenkl, Director of Learning and Land at Dartington Trust commented: “This grant from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is going to allow us to make some great leaps forward with regenerative farming, which we hope will spread across the country as we strive towards a sustainable and more self-sufficient food system. We believe that big ideas can make the world a better place and this will truly allow us to practice what we preach.

“From Dartington’s beginnings in the 1920s, it has always fostered experimentation at the leading edge of farming and education. We continue to evolve the principles upon which the Trust was founded to help engage students, community members, farmers, food producers and others to find solutions to challenges facing our food system today.”

Applications open later this year. Sign up to our mailing list to keep in the loop with future announcements about the programme.