It was Saint Augustine who said that if you aspire to great things, then you should begin with little things.
It is clear that as Trustees we have inherited a broad vision from our founders, with a mandate to nurture and develop East Shallowford as a place where many people find a welcome, can find themselves, can discover new things and fresh perspectives, and can discern the hand of God as Creator.
We believe we are making steady steps in this journey, small steps at times, and larger one at others.
As a body of Trustees we have learned to work well as a team, to feed off our different strengths and gifts, and work together with a shared aim. In 2016 David Ursell, former Chair and one of the founding Trustees, retired having contributed a huge amount of patient support to the Trust. In 2017 we are looking to expand the board back to nine members.
The development of the partnership with Broadaford in some ways is a small step, literally as we share field boundaries, and a five minute walk across the track; but in other ways it has been a large step, as we have worked together closely over the past year to improve stock and farming practices, and very significantly broaden the educational value to visiting groups. Fundamental to our vision, both historically and into the future, is the fact that East Shallowford is a working farm, and that visiting groups participate in this enterprise, and over and again leave with rich memories. 2016 has also seen the beginning of a major overhaul of walls and fencing, that started in the autumn, and will continue into the 2017.
At last we have planning permission to develop visitor accommodation and improve agricultural and educational buildings. Working closely with local advisors, we believe we have designed a project that respects the history of our Dartmoor farmstead, fits the core principles of Shallowford, and gives us the versatility we need to provide a farming, educational, and residential experience. Without question the coming year will bring both challenges and opportunities; and as a body of Trustees and staff team we are committed to meet these and for the work to thrive.
There is something like home about East Shallowford, that brings people back over and again, and on the last weekend in September they came back again. Celebrating 40 years since the start of Elizabeth Braund and Rosemary Bird’s ‘A Lung for the City’ Project, visitors from down the years came to represent their peers. Two of them had as young people been on the very first minibus to come to the farm, and reported that this was their best weekend for a long time. There was a family of three generations visiting, the first of whom had come in 1978. Visitors camped, squashed into the farmhouse or stayed locally.
On Saturday afternoon there was a story telling gathering, and in the evening a barn dance, to the accompaniment of the inevitable rain, and on Sunday a service of celebration, to ‘thank God for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come’.
The bottom line at Shallowford is that those who find the farm a home also in a deeper sense may find in God their home, their dwelling place, their point of connection.
As a Trust we have a commitment to the future, to carry the work forward on established principles, and holding our core values as a light to the pathway ahead. A repeated maxim for last year will serve well for the year to come, to paraphrase the Apostle, that we follow with perseverance the road marked for us.
12th January 2017.