Farm Advice

posted in: News, Opportunities | 0

The Stockfree Veganic Standards and Certification

Advice and services from Iain Tolhurst and visits to his veganic farm:


Individual consultations are welcome at our farm, or, for a more cost effective visit, you may want to bring other colleagues with you. For many people this is an excellent introduction to how an organic system operates. We have been growing organically on this site since 1987 and are able to demonstrate:

  • Stockfree field vegetables on 17 acres, an intensive rotation with widespread use of long and short-term green manures.
  • Intensive garden crops in a 2 acre Victorian walled garden, again utilising intensive green manures and own produced composts.
  • Out-of-season production in 17,000 sq feet of tunnels and glasshouse utilising our own vegetable compost.
  • Own-plant propagation facilities in our dedicated greenhouse producing over 75,000 plants per year.
  • Agroforestry systems within a horticulture unit
  • Direct marketing. All our produce is sold through our own box scheme, local market and on-farm stall.
  • Vegetable & woodchip composting for small-scale users.


Iain Tolhurst will visit you on your farm to deliver advice tailored to your personal situation.

  • Farm inspection to assess the feasibility of the practical and financial implications of an organic conversion.
  • Discuss with you the various options for business development.
  • Conversion planning – designing your conversion, rotations, weed control, pest/disease management, fertility building, and soil management and cropping plans.


Once Iain has visited your farm and discussed your various ideas and options, he will be able to complete much of the work from our office:

  • Report on the feasibility of converting your farm to an organic system.
  • Draw up a conversion plan, to include rotations, weed control, pest/disease management, fertility building, soil management and cropping plans.
  • Financial study, to assess the financial implications.
  • Machinery/equipment list, particularly useful to those farmers who may be embarking on a new diversification.
  • Detailed cropping plans tailored to your proposed markets.
  • Supply names and addresses of materials, services and organisations that you will find useful.
  • Telephone service for clients. (This is something that people find invaluable.)


Iain has extensive experience in designing and delivering seminars on the practice of organic production.

Unless already listed on our Events page, the training can be organised to your specific needs and request, at your site or ours. These seminars will often take the form of a workshop, using participative training techniques. Where appropriate the seminar can be linked with outdoor activities such as a farm walk or demonstration.

Seminars at our farm can be catered for, using our new production kitchen and offering the best organic fresh lunches and refreshments. Please, email for quotes.

Iain also is often invited with presentations at conferences and seminars covering the practice and policy of a range of organic subjects.

Farm walks  can be organised for groups of farmers, consultants, students, amateur gardeners or members of the public. With specific requirements, please email.

Vegan permaculture courses in the UK

posted in: Opportunities, Upcoming Courses | 0

Two permaculture design courses run by vegans (and VON members) are takng place in the UK this summer.

Graham Burnett and Nicole Vosper  are running a course in Somerset split over two periods 28 June – 2 July and 2-6 August, while Aranya and Tony Martin (below) are running a course in South Wales 5-19 July.

For more information see (Graham and Nicole’s course) (Aranya and Tony’s course).

Nicole and Tony both have articles in the latest issue of Growing Green International.



Soil Management Seminar

posted in: Opportunities, Upcoming Courses | 0 management seminar for growers and gardeners, those working on land, students and apprentices

31 March 2014, 10 am – 4pm

Venue: Tolhurst Organic Market Garden, Hardwick Estate, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Reading, RG8 7RD

Few people realise just how dynamic and wonderful the soil is beneath their feet. Get down to real basics, and back to earth, with this popular and stimulating seminar run by organic experts, Iain Tolhurst and Roger Hitchings. The seminar covers all aspects of soil, from its creation to its final use. It encourages the delegate to revere and cherish this precious resource.

The seminar is a participative workshop, with trainees joining in, sharing their ideas and questions with their group; and working in groups as part of the day’s activities. At the end of the day you will go home with a much better understanding of what your soil is, how it works, and how you will be able to ensure it is still there for the future. We will be looking at soils, so if you bring a sample along, we may get to have an in-depth look at it.

Course cost (local and organic lunch included):

  • Reduced price for eligible participants (see below) £50 + VAT
  • Full price for participants not-eligible for funding £100 + VAT

On-line booking is available here

Please check information on discounts below before booking.

You can also register directly and pay by cheque, BACS or credit card by contacting Gillian Woodward.

100% fee reduction available for young people from Berkshire

If you are 26 or under, resident in Berkshire and training (student/apprentice) to or starting a career in agriculture, you may qualify for one of our Gordon Palmer Memorial Trust bursaries. Please do NOT complete the on-line registration form, but e-mail Gillian Woodward with details of your address, age and circumstances to check eligiblity.

50% fee reduction for English producers and others obtaining a living from agriculture or agricultural products

Eligibility includes producers and employees of producer groups, supply chain businesses, direct retailers, small consultancy businesses, but not multiple retailers, government departments, agencies or public bodies including universities. Participants must be living/working in England.

To benefit please download, complete and sign the funding application form (243 kb pdf file) and send to Gillian Woodward at ORC. You can still register and pay on-line.

This project has been supported through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union

Green Manures for Healthy Soils and Crops Seminar

Hungarian grazing rye, one of my favourite green manures as it forms a solid cover & keeps the soil structure together in winter rain

Iain Tolhurst has been a practising organic vegetable producer for over 37 years, one of the original pioneers of the organic movement in the UK. He is internationally renowned and has taught organic systems in many parts of the world. The wonderful highly acclaimed organic farm on the beautiful Hardwick Estate that he runs is the main tool in the practical learning exercise.

Lunch is for many a highlight of the day, as much as possible of the food is from the farm with everything including the tea and coffee being organic. The day starts and ends with tea/coffee/biscuits and you will find great company to chat with, in a beautiful environment.

The seminar starts at 10am and lasts for 6 hours, including lunch. Cost is £55 + VAT. Discounts apply.

More information:

Monday, 21 October 2013, 10 am – 4pm Green Manures for Healthy Soils and Crops

Horticultural crop systems make heavy demands on soil fertility and soil sustainability, often requiring large amounts of inputs to support fertility due to excessive nutrient losses and crop off-take. Better use of green manure systems can make dramatic improvements to soil fertility and structure, enabling a more viable and productive system whilst dramatically reducing inputs as well as enabling a more self-sustaining system. The workshop explores the way in which green manures can be integrated into cropping through modified rotations.

To see more details and to book visit our dedicated page on Eventbrite: