LWA members are invited to a Skill Share Day at Monkton Wyld Court, West Dorset on Monday 10th October 2016.


This will be an opportunity to hear more about the results of the research from the small scale farmer survey that we conducted this year, how they will be used and to view the filmed visits of ten of the most productive smallholdings, as well as to share experiences about how to be a productive, agro-ecological small scale farmer. Further details relating to costs and booking are attached. The staff at Monkton Wyld Court are handling booking for this event so if you would like to come, please could you reply to by 3rd October to Monkton Wyld office email address: info@monktonwyldcourt.org.

To make the journey even more worthwhile, we have arranged local farm visits to Fivepenny Farm and Trill Farm Market Garden on Tuesday 11th October. This is in addition to the tour of the smallholding and micro-dairy at Monkton Wyld as a finish to the agenda on the Monday. All three are inspiring places to visit, and ranked high in the productivity survey.

We are still busy analysing the results of the survey, but have already some encouraging findings, including:

  • Many of the horticultural holdings performed well , with average yields of certain crops such as salad leaves, French beans and leaf beet/chard (kg/square metre) being significantly higher than standard organic and non-organic yields.
  • There was great diversity in the economic viability of the holdings, but a number are performing well to provide a modest, but sufficient livelihood for small scale farmers.
  • Small farmers are providing significantly higher employment (both self-employed and casual/longer term paid employment), with an average of 0.72 full time labour Units per hectare. According to Eurostat, the average employment per unit area in the UK 0.017 annual work units per ha.
  • The main barriers to productivity emerging from the study relate to lack of time/skilled labour, space/land and capital for investment in infrastructure and equipment.

Over the next few months we will continue analysis and writing up, as well as visiting the ten most productive holdings to make short films on five different aspects of the results. We look forward to sharing these results with you on 10th October .

Please come, whether you have tips to offer, feel in need of learning from others or simply want to find out more about the results. We very much look forward to meeting you.

Please email info@monktonwyldcourt.org for a booking form.

More information about the day

The aim is to bring together LWA members and those who took part in the two small farm productivity surveys to share techniques that you use to increase your productivity, and explore ways to overcome some of the barriers to productivity that you experience. We hope that by joining with other small-scale farmers in enterprise focussed groups to discuss techniques, you might gain helpful insights into other people’s systems that bring ideas to increase yields or improve sustainability in your own system. If nothing else, it will be a chance to compare notes from the season just ending and celebrate achievements or commiserate with each other about the weather! You will also have the chance to hear more about the results of the “A Matter of Scale” survey and be the first to see the filmed interviews from the ten most productive holdings.

Programme for the Day

10.30 Arrivals and refreshment

11.00 Welcome, outline of the day and presentation of results (Rebecca )

11.45 First workshop (1 hour) Options: Horticulture, Fruit (top and soft), Laying hens/other poultry, Meat livestock , Dairy, Small scale cereals, Adding value by processing, Record keeping

12.45 Lunch (45mins)

1.30 Second workshop (1 hour) ) Options: Horticulture, Fruit (top and soft), Laying hens/other poultry, Meat livestock , Dairy, Small scale cereals, Adding value by processing, Record keeping

2.30 Showing of filmed interviews

3.30 Tea

4.00 Final remarks/Discussion/Conclusion to the day.

4.45 ` Optional farm tour of Monkton Wyld micro-dairy, pigs and walled garden.


You will have the option of attending two enterprise focussed workshops – please indicate your preferences on the booking form. Please come prepared to discuss the following points:

  1. Which is your most productive/successful crop and how do you make it so productive?
  2. How have you overcome a significant barrier to your productivity?
  3. How does the scale at which you operate influence the yield you manage to obtain?


Farm Visits Tuesday 11th October

There is the option for people to visit two LWA member farms close to Monkton Wyld on the Tuesday:

fivepenny-barnFivepenny Farm (1.5 miles) is a mixed, family farm, comprising a micro dairy, sheep, pigs and laying hens, as well as soft fruit and vegetables. Much of the produce is used in the Fivepenny Farm Catering business, which provides food for weddings and local authority functions. At Fivepenny Farm you will also have a chance to see the processing barn, which local smallholders belonging to the Peasant’s Evolution Producers’ Co-operative can use for juicing, jam making, meat cutting and dairy processing.


dscf1402Trill Farm Market Garden (5 miles) is a one hectare plot, where Ashley and Kate Wheeler produce salad and other vegetables for restaurants and cafés in the Axminster and Lyme Regis area. A wide range of interesting leaves and flowers are grown, and seed from many of them is saved and shared within the South West Seed Network. This five year old business provides a full time livelihood for Ashley and his family, and part-time employment for several others. It forms a part of Trill Farm, where a mixture of herb, foraging, catering and livestock enterprises combine to form a thriving rural business centre and informal community.

If enough people are interested, we will hire a minibus and visit Fivepenny Farm in the morning, and Trill Farm in the early afternoon, before dropping people at Axminster Station and returning to Monkton Wyld. It would be possible to drop people at Axminster Station on the way to Trill Farm (at lunchtime), if people need to catch an earlier train. Please let us know on the booking form what your preferred arrangements are.


About Monkton Wyld

Monkton Wyld Court is an education centre for sustainable living, based in a Grade II listed neo-Gothic rectory, with a walled garden and a five acre smallholding. It is run and maintained by a resident community, with the help of volunteers. To find out more, please see http://monktonwyldcourt.co.uk/

Address: Monkton Wyld Court
nr. Charmouth

For full directions please visit the “Getting here” page of their website: http://monktonwyldcourt.co.uk/getting-here/