Annual Report 2018

Annual Report for The Apricot Centre Financial Year 2018


In 2012 the Biodynamic Land Trust (BDLT) approached The Dartington Hall Trust to purchase a small plot of land to set up a community-owned biodynamic farm. To date, over 150 people have invested in the purchase of the land and in the farm infrastructure.

The first tenant recruited by the BDLT to develop and run Huxhams Cross Farm was The Apricot Centre, then based in East Anglia where it had already developed a unique business model, combining a farm with a therapeutic well-being service for children and families. The Apricot Centre tenancy started in September 2015.

The Apricot Centre is a Community Interest Company (CIC) whose main purpose is to create healthy systems in which ‘right livelihoods’ emerge for its members, in a context which nourishes human health, respects community, and promotes diversity.

After signing the first (15 year) tenancy of the newly created Huxhams Cross Farm with the Biodynamic Land Trust (BDLT),The Apricot Centre (then based in East Anglia) undertook a Permaculture design development process to shape the new farm. At that stage it was simply six fields comprising 35 acres or 13 hectares of stubble fields without proper gates or fencing.

The first key staff member of The Apricot Centre team to arrive in Devon from East Anglia was Bob Mehew, who arrived in 2015 with a remit to project-manage the establishment of the new working farm. He began the conversion of the land to organic, a process completed with full Biodynamic status being awarded in 2018. Through targeted fundraising he found funds and /or materials to support the key tasks. He improved the fencing, co-ordinated the installation of the electrics and a mains water supply, the planting of the first 4000 fruit trees and shrubs, applying agroforestry principles, and the soft fruit for the first season’s sales, working largely with local volunteers. He was improving the soil, building up the stock of chickens, welcoming a couple of cows, and preparing the infrastructure: a barn, a network of paths and tracks and four polytunnels, and purchasing tools and equipment. He began the crop/activity rotation on the farm to take forward the soil improvement strategy.


The full Apricot Centre team moved here from East Anglia in autumn 2017 with their farm implements and materials. The establishment of the farm’s activities has accelerated and more staff have been recruited. Now it is recognised as a Beacon Farm by the BDLT. As such, it is a farm that practises respectful and regenerative agriculture and as one that offers inspiration to others by its example.

A new Training Centre building was completed in 2018 facilitating the development of the wellbeing, educational and recreation activities on the farm. It is a low-cost, high performance eco-building based on a simple timber frame. It is super-insulated and breathable, mostly constructed from natural materials and using a passive solar design. It houses a food-processing kitchen, flexible training space, offices and toilet. Its building was funded jointly by the BDLT with a 40% grant from LEDER. It was built by a local company called TerraPerma..

The Apricot Centre now pays a rental for the space to BDLT.


The Apricot Centre intentions are to:

  1. produce healthy local food for the community applying biodynamic ecological farmland management , as the highest quality system for soil sustainability for long term farming, for food security and health of people and planet
  2. be resilient in the face of climate change, supporting biodiversity, sequestering carbon, reducing the use of carbon rich products and reducing waste
  3. host a well-being service mainly for Adopted and Looked After Children;
  4. create opportunities for ‘right livelihood’, paying a fair wage to its workers
  5. engage in and support relevant reflection research and dissemination about its work having a focus on promoting its methods and processes


The Team

Our team of wonderful staff has grown over the last year. The Apricot Centre now employs 9.5 full time equivalent jobs. The team includes very hard working and skilled; Mark O'Connell, Rachel Phillips, Heather Harvey, Bob Mehew, Dave Wright, the singing Caspar Meredith, the foraging Ross Perrett, Edd Gildersleeve, Amy Worth and Marina O'Connell. We also have a wonderful team of freelance mentors, therapists and psychologists both in East Anglia and in Devon.


Our Advisory committee is made up of Anne Phillips, Anne Marie Mayer, George Sobel, Gabriel Kaye, Wendy Cook, Harriet Bell, David Goodborne and Kanada Gorla


Highlights of the 2018 season

2018 was a challenging season with its weather extremes; snow was followed by 10 weeks without rain. Our rainwater collection system is now completed. We have 124,000 litres of water in storage collected from rainwater run-off from the roofs of our two new buildings. We have planted more than 5000 trees so far,

In pursuit of our aim to reduce the use of carbon rich products WE DO NOT USE nitrogen based fertilisers, pesticides, plastic bags, long distance transport of our food.


Farm Produce

Vegetable production included 328kg of kale sold, 1.5 tonnes of carrots sold, and over 1000 cucumbers produced.

We have about 40 - 50 box customers per week, a market stall in Totnes taking £600- £1000 per week, and an online shop.

The chicken flock was increased to 150, and we have a waiting list for the eggs.

We picked more than 7000 kg strawberries.

We grew ‘Population YQ wheat’ for flour and beer.

We produced our first pulse crop of dried borlotti beans.



More than 30% of the farmland has been put into wildlife conservation, with conservation grazing by two cows on 3 hectares for wild orchids, and hedgerows managed for bird and bee life.


Reducing waste

We are working towards creating a closed loop system for the management of ‘waste’ associated with the business. In 2018 we began to develop the food processing arm of the business aiming towards zero waste. (We made delicious raspberry and strawberry jam from our grade outs).

Our chickens and cows also are fed with ‘waste’/surplus vegetables.

We have reviewed our packaging, and use paper punnets, recycled plastic punnets, non-single use plastic, paper or no packaging as much as possible.


Wellbeing Activities

The farm is home to the Devon based Apricot Centre Wellbeing Service and spaces have been created for these services all over the farm, in the copses and in our special Pod. Wellbeing activities and work experience take place on the farm as part of our mentoring services. These are only beginning now we have our buildings in place on the Devon Farm.


Training Courses

We have run a training and apprenticeship scheme offering full biodynamic and permaculture training with horticultural and farming work experience for one apprentice and one part time intern.

We also ran;

  • An agroforestry course with Martin Wolfe: 3 days
  • Our first permaculture design course : 12 days
  • We have also offered the space to others as a training venue eg: Devon Rural Trust Hedge laying

One of our first students / cohorts gave us this feedback; "The Permaculture Design Course at The Apricot Centre is offering a real world solutions to soil degradations and biodiversity loss and that is what makes it unusual " Professor Nigel Saunders - System Biology Brunel University.


Plans and Targets for 2019

  • The number of hens will be increased to 150 to keep up with the insatiable demand for our eggs. We will also bring in another batch of 100 hens in the autumn to make sure that production doesn’t drop off during winter. We produced around 20,000 eggs in 2018 and we expect the number will rise to around 35,000 in 2019.
  • We will increase vegetable production by 20%
  • We have 6 acres of wheat planted that will be ready for harvest in August 2019, by which time the newly formed Dartington Mill CIC will be in operation to process this grain into products to be sold through existing outlets.
  • New crops to be tried out in 2019 include salsify, different salad crops, climbing French beans rather than dwarf, different culinary herbs.
  • More cut flowers.
  • More dried pulses.
  • Food processing .We now have a food processing kitchen and food hygiene status, and are applying for organic / BD status for our products. Juicing and ferments will be produced on a larger, but still small scale.
  • Dartington Mill – we have jointly started a new company with the Almond Thief and Parsonage Farm to be called Dartington Mill. Based at The Almond Thief (AT) on the Dartington industrial estate it will mill the wheat we harvest. The heritage flour will go to the AT for a "local loaf", the YQ ( a modern form of population wheat) wheat from High Cross farm will go into bags for sale, both retail and wholesale. 
  • An extended Agroforestry course
  • A Biodynamic Agriculture course
  • A Cookery course with Wendy Cook
  • Therapeutic horticulture for young people
  • Develop a consultancy for farms wanting to implement permaculture design, agroforestry and or biodynamics systems.


How the Apricot Centre related to its world in 2018 as a BDLT Beacon Farm

  • Staff have attended and presented at; Off grid festival, Permaculture regional festival, BDLT AGM, Women of the World Southbank festival, Exeter, Oxford Farming Conference.
  • We wrote an article for the Permaculture Magazine.
  • Social media: continues to grow. Online presence on Facebook (followers 1226) and Instagram (314 followers). (   
  • We welcomed over 500 visitors to the farm in 2018, with volunteer days, School  Visits, Open Farm Sunday event, Hosting the BDLT AGM and our grand opening of the new training centre building on the site.



Apricot Centre Wellbeing Services (ACWS) in 2018

Working with children and families ‘On The Edge of Potential’.

The Wellbeing Service was established in 2015, in East Anglia. Since the move to Devon the ACWS has expanded its work, offering services mainly for Adopted and Looked After Children (Young People in Care). Over the years the work has become more focussed upon Adoption work, primarily funded by Government Adoption Support Funds. During 2018 we began to diversify our services, offering more mentoring services in Devon.


During 2018 we continued our work in East Anglia whilst in Devon we have developed links with Local Authority Education and Social Care departments, schools, and private individuals.


    • Mentoring Services for Devon – in 2018 we delivered mentoring support through activities on the farm with interest from Torbay and Devon SEN Departments.
    • Educational services in East Anglia - we started working with 2 schools in East Anglia with resident therapists embedded in the schools
    • Therapeutic services in East Anglia - continue to thrive in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.
    • Therapeutic Services for Devon - we have begun delivering contracts within Devon.
    • A Process-Oriented Community Forum focussing on mental health and young people was held with 35 younger and older people at Foxhole Dartington. This has led onto further community engagement exploring avenues for activities and events for local young people
    • Numbers; We worked with more than 75 families across East Anglia and Devon. 15% of these were in Devon and 85% in East Anglia delivering a total of 2000 + hours of therapy to young people and families, and 800 hours of mentoring









                                  2018 (£)                   2017(£)


TURNOVER             347,3015                   268,574

Other income           1212

Cost of sales          (178,285)                   (116,946)

Staff Costs              (143,898)                   (71,336)

Depriciation             (12,565)                     (5239)

Other charges         (37,652)                     (26,115)


Profit /(LOSS)          (23,873)                     48,938


Tax                             7,827                         7,827


NET PROFIT            (16,046)                      41,111





                                                    2018 (£)                   2017 (£)


FIXED ASSETS                          37,694                      15,716

Current assets                            47,600                      80,703

Creditors                                     54,326                      53,559

(Amounts falling in one year)

Net CURRENTS                        (6,726)                      27,144




CURRENT LIABILITIES               30,968                     42,860

Accounts and deferred income     (5,114)                     (960)

NET ASSETS                                25,854                     41,900

CAPITAL AND RESERVES           25,854                     41,900




The Apricot centre turnover continues to increase year on year. 2018 shows a loss on paper, but this was due to a correction in our accounting system from 2017. The reality was that we broke even for this year.


The Farm income sales appear flat: however in 2018 the bulk of the produce sold was grown on the farm rather than bought in and will continue to increase in 2019.

The Wellbeing services are flourishing with a 54% increase in turnover.

Our income breakdown is as follows;


                                                 2018 (£)              2017 (£)


Farm sales and income            64,917                68,331

Wellbeing services                    271,540               177,007

Grants and subsides                 10,858               23,236


To contact the Apricot Centre go to or

T 01803 762253