Leaving Trill Farm

1 Oct 2020 | 0 comments

Dear friends,

I'm leaving Trill Farm in a couple of weeks’ time, although really, I'm taking Trill Farm with me.

There is perhaps a philosophical dilemma about whether you truly leave things behind or whether you take with you what you have created. I think I tend to go with the latter. I think the world is of our own making.

My working life started off in school teaching. An act of fate led me to work for six years in a progressive 'free' school. The philosophy of the school was to encourage the children to learn through their own interests. The skill of the teacher was to provide the opportunities and the means for them to do this. The school was run by the children, the parents and the teachers. It was an exciting place to implement ideals and lay foundations for the future.

Fundamental to this type of education was helping the children to understand and appreciate their responsibility for their own actions. I'm talking about this now because as I am packing up to leave Trill Farm, four decades later, I feel that there is a thread from working at the school, setting up Neal's Yard Remedies and most recently Trill Farm. I wanted Trill Farm to become a model, using the farm's resources to produce food. Good food, to me, is essential for good health. And good health leads to sense of wellbeing.

I don't know if leaving Trill Farm will, in hindsight, be the biggest mistake I've made. But for the last 18 months, I have tried very hard to handle my diminishing energy (post-heart surgery) and the loss of my partner, Godfrey. With those personal difficulties in the background, I have struggled to take Trill Farm into another new phase of its life. 

Trill Farm has been an exploration into doing things differently. An adventure into farming, community and education. It has been an experiment in weaving those three areas together. 

By the end of my first 18 months here, I recognised that I did not have the skills, energy or knowledge to do it all myself. Trill Farm became a brilliant opportunity to bring together idealists, creatives and activists in the world of farming, food and education.

Ash and Kate were the first people that I invited in, to take over the small vegetable growing enterprise that I had set up as Trill Farm Garden. Jake Hancock and his wife Chrissy then arrived to take over my herd of Red Devons and develop the organic conservation farming, which more recently has been taken over by Harry Boglione.

Daphne Lambert and I created the Trill Farm kitchen. This was designed to be a teaching kitchen that was able to bring together all the foods that were produced on the farm by the different people based here. Daphne moved on to run her charity, the Green Cuisine Trust and I invited Chris Onions to use the space to establish the Old Dairy Kitchen. Ash, Kate, Chris and Anna will all continue to live and run their businesses at Trill Farm.

I want to create products responsibly, ethically, and sustainably, but not just for people who are privileged enough to spend enough money to buy them. These products should be available to anybody who chooses quality above a mass produced industrial product that embodies hidden costs. But we need help to learn what to value.

By electing governments that do not prioritise the true welfare and wellbeing of their voters, a small artisanal project like Trill Farm taking responsibility for its people, products and the environment, cannot possibly compete with the global industrialised manufacturers that then get distributed by operations like Tesco and Amazon.

Somehow, we need to shift our values. And we can. We can value the small, responsible manufacturers. I'm looking forward to writing about this over the coming year, because I find it so fascinating that there is this core dilemma. We all, since the Covid experience, are understanding so much more about what is of value in our lives. 

Despite spending the last 18 months looking for partners to take on Trill Farm as a joint project, with core values around education, society and agriculture, I don't think I was able to come up with the right model. Although what I take away from Trill Farm, is the knowledge that it can work, if you get the model right, and of course with the right people.

Living at Trill Farm has been an extraordinary adventure into ideas and community and over the past 14 years, I have met brilliant people who have been truly supportive and inspiring. This is really a big thank you to all of you, but is also an invitation to join us for the next chapter. 

Tamsin and Lara, who have been with me on this journey from the beginning, and I, are going to take the name, energy and ideas of Trill Farm. We have lots of exciting ideas for the future and the land that we are retaining at Trinity Beacon, around our core values of nature, health and education. We'll be developing these ideas over the winter, with your help, and we look forward to keeping in touch.

If you are not already signed up to our mailing list, you can do so here.

Best wishes,

Creative Writing Retreat - now also offered online

2 Aug 2020 | 0 comments The past few months in and coming out of lockdown have had an impact on all of our lives, ambitions, and plans for the future. For some, time, space and stillness have been a relief and an opportunity to step back, reflect and create. For others, life has become more difficult to navigate, with no opportunity to rest whilst facing stressful uncertainty.
There are lots of questions that hover over the near and distant future in terms of travel, social connection and how communities interact. But we all need resilience, community and playfulness to cope in the long term. 

Making space for creativity at home
We know that developing creative practice and time in nature can be a valuable way to process thoughts, feelings and experiences, if we can find the time and space to nurture and reflect.
As a creative solution to some of these uncertainties, and to make sure that no one misses out, we have developed a new online version of our Creative Writing Retreat to run alongside the usual course running 14th-18th October, for £350.

What will the online retreat include?
The escape from normal life, time to wander the fields and woodlands and opportunity to take nourishment from the landscape, community and gentleness at the farm are a huge part of our retreats, but travel may not be an option for some by the autumn.
If you join our online course we are offering tips to help you to create your own retreat sanctuary at home, sending out goodie bags and reading lists to bring a little of Trill Farm's magic into your space. The online course will also include audio and visual recordings of nature walks on the farm to take inspiration from and sink into, particularly if you do not have access to a garden or wild space.
You will be invited to join daily workshops and readings with Sarah, Wyl and the other retreat participants via Zoom, and you will be asked to put time aside in the afternoons for your writing, walking and reading, together with a one to one mentor slot with both tutors to support and help develop your writing and practice.

Can I still join in person?
We are still taking bookings for all places. If, nearer the time, you find that you would like to join us in person, there will be the opportunity to upgrade your ticket. The places remain limited whichever way you choose to join us, as we have found that small learning groups work best for the retreat, so any ticket option guarantees you one of the eight places.
About the tutors:
Sarah Acton - Retreat Leader
Sarah is a landscape writer, poet, and creative facilitator who works with individuals and organisations throughout Devon and Dorset as Black Ven Poetry. Sarah is frequently commissioned by the Jurassic Coast Trust, Dorset AONB, Stepping into Nature, Alzheimer’s Memory Cafes, schools, museums and libraries to lead and develop social engagement projects connecting creativity and nature through poetry and writing/creative practice. Sarah’s writing has been widely published in magazines and in two poetry pamphlets.

Wyl Menmuir - Guest Tutor
Wyl is a novelist, editor and literary consultant based in Cornwall. His first novel, The Many, was nominated for the Man-Booker Prize and was an Observer Best Fiction of the Year pick. His short fiction has appeared in Best British Short Stories, Elementum Journal, Pipeline and has been published by Nightjar Press and National Trust. He has written for Radio 4’s Open Book, The Guardian and The Observer, and is a regular contributor to the journal Elementum.

COVID-19: Re-opening and Staying Safe at Trill Farm

4 Jun 2020 | 1 comments

We have been hugely grateful for your support over the past few months, from taking places on rescheduled courses and accepting vouchers in the place of refunds, to ordering from our online shop and supporting our enterprises in their veg box and meal deliveries.

We have been monitoring the latest government guidelines and advice, and are very pleased to announce that we plan to allow visitors back to the farm again in July and August. We will be starting slowly, with small retreat groups and trial picnic farm lunches, before introducing courses in August, subject to the continued easing of lockdown restrictions and if we feel it is safe to do so.

There will be a number of procedures in place to promote good practice and the safety of everybody living, working at or visiting Trill Farm. We intend to continue to offer a supportive, welcoming and nurturing community for all, whilst living, working and offering experiences in line with the latest government guidance.

More detailed information will be sent to anybody visiting Trill Farm for a lunch, a retreat, a course or a stay, but in the meantime, please be aware that:

  • Booking is absolutely essential – the farm remains closed to the general public
  • Visitors who have any symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in close proximity to anyone with symptoms, should not come to the farm. Full refunds are available up to and including the day of your visit.
  • Social distancing measures will be in place – please maintain at least 1m distance from anyone outside your household or social bubble, and more if possible
  • Hand washing and/or sanitising will be required on arrival
  • Although we usually encourage public transport, please use personal transportation to visit us
  • Bring a face covering or mask to protect yourself and others in case social distancing is not possible
  • Lunches will be served outside with members of different households or social bubbles seated apart from each other
  • The shop will be open for one visitor at a time
  • Unaccompanied walks around the farm will not be permitted

If you have any queries, or would like to reschedule your visit, please get in touch by emailing post@trillfarm.co.uk

Spiced Mulled Wine

3 Nov 2019 | 0 comments

4 cloves
half a cinnamon stick
A few slices of ginger
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
lemon peel, finely pared
1 bottle red wine
1 tablespoon Trill Farm honey
splash of brandy

Put the spices, herbs and lemon peel in a
stainless steel pan. Add half the red wine and
bring to just below boiling. Simmer very
gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat
and leave to infuse for an hour. Add the
honey, the brandy and the rest of the
wine. Gently heat but do not boil,
strain and serve.


Top Tips for Lighting a Fire

2 Nov 2019 | 0 comments

Fires are one of our favourite things about winter. Whether it's to warm up against inside after a blustery walk, or to gather around outside in the dark evenings, with a glass of mulled wine and a hot pot of stew. The flickering flames are meditative, and it truly heats your bones.

We have wood burners in the guest house, in the Old Dairy Kitchen and in our course workshops on the farm to keep us all warm. Maybe you have fires at home and are already fire lighting wizards, but it is a skill that many of us have lost, so here are a few tips to help you on your way.

1) Find a safe space for your fire.

This is simple if it's inside: in a fire place or a wood burner. But having fires outside can be riskier. Make sure you have the land owner's permission before lighting a fire. Find an open, flat area, where your fire is unlikely to spread to nearby bushes or trees. Clear the ground of leaf litter, or even better, use a fire bowl so that you don't leave any scorch marks on the ground.

2) Collect your materials.

Wherever you are lighting a fire, you will need three types of fuel: tinder (no, not the app, the very first thing you light, for example newspaper or cotton wool), kindling (small, dry sticks) and small or split logs. You will also need something to provide the initial spark; you could use matches, a lighter, or a fire steel (we particularly like these ones by the Friendly Swede). It's a good idea to have a pair of thick gloves available, for adding more fuel when the fire gets going.

3) Prepare your fire.

There are many ways to lay a fire. We like to use a 'waffle lay'. This means laying three bits of kindling out parallel to each other, then another three on top perpendicular, as if you are going to play a big game of noughts and crosses. You can then put your tinder (in this case, scrunched up balls of newspaper) on top of the waffle, and build a pyramid up around it. The waffle helps the air to flow in under the fire and allow it to breathe while it gets established.

4) Light your tinder.

Light the newspaper or other tinder, and carefully add more kindling onto the flames, taking care not to smother them.

5) Add larger fuel as the fire grows.

As the flames grow bigger and hotter, then can consume larger fuel. If you have a wood burner, make sure you close the door. It can seem counter-intuitive, seeming like your cutting off the air supply and locking the heat away, but the open vents actually draw the air in at the bottom where it is most needed, and the doors will radiate the heat out in to the room.

6) Stay safe, and enjoy!

Shut the vents down once the fire has got going, and especially if you are leaving the room. If you have a fire outside, have a bucket of water nearby, ready to extinguish the fire with if needed, or to provide cool water for accidental burns. If you have a fire outside, try to leave no trace. Make sure your fire is fully out and well dowsed with water. If you lit a fire on the ground, re-cover the area with leaf litter.

Winter Market - 30th November 2019

2 Nov 2019 | 0 comments

Trill Farm's popular Winter Market returns on Saturday 30th November 2019.

Open from 11am - 4pm, we will have a selection of products available from all of our farm enterprises, plus mulled apple juice and mince pies hot from the Old Dairy Kitchen.

Stalls will include:

The perfect opportunity to do your Christmas shopping. The Old Dairy Kitchen will be open for Farm Lunch at 1pm (booking essential) so why not make a day of it?

We look forward to seeing you soon!