design 1

Design rationale

From the survey of people currently with a relationship to Ashurst Field, ie Hoathly Hill Community members and from them trustees of Hoathly Hill Trust, it was clear that there were strong impulses:

  • to build the connection between Hoathly Hill Community and the field
  • to support land-based educational initiatives
  • to work regeneratively with the land using biodynamics and permaculture.

The ethics analysis found those impulses to meet permaculture ethics, especially connecting people with the land through community educational land-based projects and also devoting some of the land to wild areas.

The principles analysis seemed to point to the value of having diverse, smaller projects to create many beneficial connections between the land, Hoathly Hill Community, the wider community and any potential connected projects.

The design is a Strategic Plan as a supportive and facilitative framework to create fertile ground for sustainable community projects.

Key principles at work in the Strategic Plan are:

  • creatively use and respond to change – a change was imminent in the care of the field providing an opportunity to apply permaculture design as well as an opportunity for people to come forward with project proposals
  • observe and interact – the Plan continues the design process of observing and interacting (action learning) as far as is possible within my personal resources and limitations and those of the community
  • catch and store energy – as the ecological resources of the site were limited as were those of the people tentatively wishing to engage, it was important to catch and store and build on this energy and certainly not deplete it further by applying self-regulation of any efforts and accepting feedback from the community, as well as not attempting too ambitious a project on the field and valuing existing skills and impulses
  • use and value renewable resources – by building connections with local farms and applying principles of regenerative agriculture, such as rotational grazing to increase fertility (as applied in both permaculture and biodynamic agriculture), we could ensure the field is worked regeneratively
  • design from pattern to detail – by creating an open framework that allows for creative collaboration, building community, sharing knowledge and skills and learning, the detail can evolve from the work of those involved rather than an outside design imposed upon a place or people
  • integrate rather than segregate – the Plan aims to facilitate a process of connection with the land, an integration of the field into the community in mutually beneficial relationship, a collaborative project to provide diversity and resilience for a sustainable project, an educational projects also aiming to build engagement with the land
  • small and slow solutions – engagement with the field is starting from a place of difficult community dynamics, lack of engagement with the land, hesitation to engage by those who do work with the land, lack of confidence in taking a step to working more with the land rather than in other fields and limited resources, the Plan therefore offers a framework for facilitating and supporting a slow process of change, community building and increasing engagement with the land
  • use and value diversity, the edge and the marginal – the Plan works with the edge of what is possible and invites contribution.

The design

Ashurst Field Strategic Plan 2014


a community farm based on sustainable farming practices (biodynamics and permaculture)


Our aims are to:

  • care for the land sustainably through permaculture and biodynamics land management practices
  • facilitate a community design process
  • establish community environmental education project.

We will do this by:

  • creating a steering group to oversee the management of the field
  • inviting proposals for initiatives
  • establishing a network of connections to local projects and people
  • promoting the project through our website.