In these early days of autumn, the world around us can somehow feel that much more alive as we tune into changes in the weather and the renewed morning crisp that wakes us, shakes us and embraces us all at once. Here, at Lifelines, it also means full-gear preparations for another season of planting and rewilding as community groups from around the country brace for weekends of reciprocal replenishment between us and the lands that nourish us.

As we look ahead to another winter planting season, let us introduce you to some of our participating farmers and the farms they look after. We will continue to update this page with introductions to our participating farmers in the period building up to our 2023 Lifelines project launch.

Paul Kunert – Seaxneat Wood:  

“Seaxneat Wood is a 20-acre wood situated in a larger 100-acre mosaic of wood and meadow land. The wood is owned and managed by Paul and Tara Kunert, both new to managing woodland. Paul and Tara took it on in late 2019 with the aim of managing it for wildlife and for carbon sequestration and have developed a ten-year plan for the whole wood.

We will be replanting an area of about 2 acres of former Ash plantation, recently felled due to prevalence of ash die-back disease. As high canopy woodland and very little understory, neglected in some parts for nearly 50 years, the wood has not provided good habitat for wildlife. This replanting, combined with natural regeneration growth, is part of a wider plan in the wood to encourage habitat and wildlife, particularly invertebrates – bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects – and woodland nesting birds.”

The Othona Community

“The Othona Community was established in 1946 by Norman Motley, a vicar and RAF Chaplain, to promote peace and reconciliation following WWII and to create a place where people from all walks of life, nationality and faith could come together to live in community.

It started as a summer camp where people stayed in tents to work, worship, study and play together. From these early days Othona has grown into an all year-round community with another site in West Dorset.

The site at Bradwell-on-Sea was chosen because of the nearby beautiful Saxon Chapel of St Peter-on-the Wall, built by St Cedd in 654 AD and still in use as our place of worship for simple twice daily services.

We are a dispersed community, with a small resident team but with a network of members throughout the UK and beyond. We try to live in a sustainable manner; we are off grid and manage the land in a wildlife friendly way. We grow some of our food on-site and source other food locally where possible. 

Our site at Bradwell is a small wildlife rich oasis between the sea and intensive arable land. We are adjacent to the Blackwater estuary and the North Sea in a beautiful corner of rural Essex. As part of our commitment to caring for creation and improving our site for wildlife we recently took back in hand 10 acres of intensive arable land adjacent to our site.  We are looking to manage this predominantly for wildlife and would like to plant a hedge to form a wildlife friendly boundary with the adjacent arable land. This would link with existing hedges and into the remainder of our site which has a rich mosaic of wildlife habitats.”

Hen Curtis – West Emlett Farm

“I’ve been an organic livestock farmer for over 30 years and for most of that time have farmed here in Mid-Devon. I have been breeding cattle and sheep and rear all their young stock to produce organic meat for market. My interests have always been in producing good food in harmony with nature.  High animal welfare, good soil health, biodiversity and a concern for the wider environment have always been priorities for me.

More recently I have been concentrating particularly on introducing more trees onto the farm because it seems to be one way to make a positive contribution in the face of the desperate climate situation. To that end, I am involved in a Silvopasture trial experimenting with integrating trees and livestock on farms. There are a lot of trees and hedgelines already on my land, but there is room for plenty more. I love the idea of getting help with the work of planting from enthusiastic and interested people and am much looking forward to hosting a Lifelines weekend.

Links to the Silvopasture project here; and to a video of the trial run at the West Emlett farm here.

Dr. Lufti & Ruby Radwan – Willowbrook Farm

Willowbrook Farm was established in 2002 by Dr. Lufti Radwan and his wife Ruby Radwan, who left their conventional academic careers, with their young family in tow, to pursue a lifestyle of harmony with nature.  The farm produces ethical and sustainable food and is the first Halal and Tayyib farm in the UK, meaning that the animals are reared naturally and humanely in accordance with Islamic principles of stewardship of nature.  The farm aims to minimise its environmental impact by using renewable energy, recycling waste, preserving biodiversity, and building with natural materials. The farm also hosts weekend visits, eco-camping, and educational events for the public. The farm has been praised for its resilience and innovation and strong community links.