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a report of the year 2022

2022 was a year of big highs and difficult lows; A year when we learnt about how to be resilient, to change quickly and adapt to circumstances, while at the same time sustaining our core values and ensuring that our volunteers were supported, given opportunities to learn and appreciated.

In anticipation of the year ahead in 2021 we applied for and received a generous grant from the Hampshire and IOW Community Fund (HIWCF) which allowed us to plan a program of events and employ staff to support volunteers with administration, workshops and events.

The new team

A spinning and wool workshop in the hall

Unfortunately in early spring we learnt that we would not any longer have the use of St Marys church hall for our market and workshops as, despite strong support from the town and from the people who had come to know and love us, the parochial church council decided that they wanted the hall back for their sole use. This was a significant loss to us, and the repercussions have impacted the shape of the project for the future; and there were also cost implications that, thanks to considerable generous donations, we have been able to bare.

We needed to think fast about ways that we could continue to run the Larder with its campaign for food justice and access to LOAF (Local, Organic, Animal friendly, Fairtrade) food and how we could design a space to welcome and offer hospitality for volunteers and continue to offer workshops and community events. Given that we just had access to a small field this was a leap of faith.

First we created outside workshop areas and bought a Kelly kettle

Using donations and utilising all our skills, and learning a lot more along the way, we decided to purchase and renovate a horsebox as a café for the farm. The renovation was a wonderful opportunity for the young people to create and learn and once finished ‘she’ … Clover… was ready to be our café, mobile shop and event catering resource.

Building clover

Clover doing her thing down at the farm each weekend

...... and a lot of tea and sitting about chatting was done.... all ages, great diversity, great fun

Catering for a local Open Farm event helped to raise revenue for Level Land Farm.

And through the spring….. we bought new animals, ran sessions for the youth club, grew our weekly volunteers and welcomed the Community Payback team.

The youth club sessions

Home Ed Wednesday morning group

Volunteers take on the work

.... and through the summer Visitors enjoy the space

... and there is always something to be done.. digging and duck rescue !

...and then there is more tea to be drunk

..... just hanging out with a chicken or a pig and playing. The pictures speak for themselves if the fun that there is but also the quiet times when the animals are the catalyst for finding the space we need to be human.

Thankfully the weather was mainly kind but we had a few workshops that had to be cancelled due to having no inside space and with so many national celebrations we had little opportunity for large events. However we continued to steadily increase our volunteers, members and subscribers and the young people had the opportunity to learn a huge amount.

Apple pressing days and pumpkin harvest

HAF project summer days

Grooming and cutting feet

Animal taming… everyone’s favorite thing and essential for our work as a training farm and public space.

And all through the year we learn about food, where it really comes from and its cost. Some of the young people accompanied our first pig and goat to go to slaughter and to get a look at the slaughterhouse and it was a time for us all to see how we feel. The meat that we get back from the animals is totally delicious and we are thankful.

Meat produced

And we learnt about life and death as the lambs arrived and the piglets were born. Sir Galahad the billy goat arrived to mate with our nanny goats and a piglet died.

and we learnt how to be brave

and how to tame chickens

...and just as the year before we learn how to make cheese and butter so this year we learnt how to make choritzo and bacon!

some things that people have said....

"today was really fun! Especially figuring our way around the problems building the chicken coop!" Younger volunteer

" just wanted to say a huge thank you. He has had a rocky last year but is finally in a really happy place and part of that is the farm. He's meeting people his own age, but in an the fresh air instead of stuck indoors and doing something he believes in and loves. I really cant thank you enough" a Mum

"what I love is the quiet of a morning feeding the animals, such a change from the pressure of my job" a Volunteer

"The mix of ages from 8 to 80 and from all walks of life is what makes me smile. There really are no barriers to involvement and there is a place for everyone who wants to be here" a Director

"it is just so nice to be helping to make a difference in area of environmental care. I feel like I am able to do my part and I am changing the way I see the world and the way I live" a Member

"What you are doing with Level Land Larder is brilliant and much needed in the community especially in our current political and economic climate. Its wise to be ready and to help others be ready to survive in tough times but importantly to feel empowered and actually thrive. To be self sufficient/reliant and independent but to also be interdependent and more connected with community and our natural environment can only be a good thing. It feels like it would be a wonderful way of living and co existing. A bit like how I imagine heaven to be. I can see what you are doing being replicated across the island and then the rest of the country. A proper food revolution is needed to really “level up” and make it a fairer market for all." a Researcher

So into 2023 we are excited to teach others all we have learnt and learn a whole lot more. As the volunteers grow in confidence so all ages teach and learn from each other and here are just a few ideas for the year to come.....

Creating a community that is growing in self reliance and resilience by caring for the animals on our farm and...

  • More people learning to milk after our goats give birth in the spring.

  • Making and teaching about meat products

  • Shared meals

  • Art workshops with the animals

  • New working relationships to widen our reach with No Limits, Ryde House and schools and youth clubs.

  • Growing the smallholding community on the island by offering animal loans, support and a shared space for information sharing and learning.

  • Trips and volunteering on other farms and smallholdings to give more experience for our volunteers

  • Talks and demonstrations from vets and farmers.

  • .... and

  • Looking to help encourage new small farms around the island.

See you there xx


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