Impact Update: Regenerative Agriculture at the Apricot Centre

In October 2020, DEF awarded a grant to the Apricot Centre, a farm that has been practicing regenerative agriculture in Dartington, South Devon since 2015.

Our goal was to enable them to compile and share the data they have collected since taking on the previously conventionally farmed 13 hectares, in order to demonstrate to other farmers and the public how farms can sequester carbon, while being resilient to climate change, increasing biodiversity, food produced, profit, and social impact in their local area.

The findings were even better than they had expected. In a five year period that featured extreme fluctuations in ‘normal’ temperature and rainfall, the productivity and resilience of the farm both increased.

Here is a summary of the key findings:

The team took on a bare field site in 2015 and by 2021 they found the following:

  • The farm sequesters 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per hectare per year over and above what the farm uses. A total of 64 tonnes per year.
    (This figure is expected to continue to increase as the positive impact of regenerating the soil progresses, although it is an emerging science – we’ll keep you posted!)
  • The soil organic matter went up by 25%.
  • The bird species numbers rose by 50%, the orchid numbers roses by 200%.
  • The worm count in the soil had doubled.
  • The farm harvests rainwater and is becoming increasingly less dependent on mains water for irrigation.
  • In 2020, they harvested a total of 15.4 tonnes of fruit and veg. Almost a 20% increase from 2019. This is in line with the increase in land use area.
  • In addition, they obtained 2.5 tonnes of eggs, 2.4 tonnes of hay (used as animal feed over winter), 6 tonnes of wheat and 2.3 tonnes of straw. This is produced from a cropping area of 5 hectares for the vegetables and fruit, and 2 hectares for the wheat.
  • The turnover of the farm was approximately £200,000 in 2020, with £140,000 of this being from their own produce.
  • As well as the revenue from the farm, there are multiple potential further income streams that complement regenerative agriculture businesses (such as well-being activities, wildlife safaris, wild glamping, arts/photography/film, etc.)
  • The Apricot Centre generates a further £400,000 from their well-being and counselling services, connecting people to nature. Therefore 13 hectares generates £600,000 revenue per annum.
  • They employ 6 FTE people on the farm side alone, plus 3 apprentices.
  • On average they have over 300 farm customers per week within a 12 mile radius (150 deliveries, 150 plus on the market stall).
  • 63% of their customers said that their engagement has helped them be more
    resourceful with their food.
  • In 2020 they had 1420 visitors on the farm.

We highly recommend you download the full report in the PDF below which makes fascinating and hopeful reading.

Please also feel free to share the report to help spread the word!