I've toyed with the idea of other people's material involvement in what we do here for years, particularly back when money was really tight and we really didn't have any way of advancing the Conservation works we believed were necessary around the farm. They are gradually being done, but the more we can do and the sooner we can do it, the better. I'm trying to find the origin of the quote I heard, "the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago; the second best time is now."
This farm has, for all of its ownership in the Mathew family and now in Stephan's and mine, been intended to be shared. In the long-term the property will probably become more conservation area than farm and then its "production" will most definitely be its value to others as a place to visit and perhaps retreat from the rest of the world for a time.
People outside our families don't come here much and I suspect it's because we're all quite reluctant to take advantage of other people's generosity, no matter how genuinely it is offered. (Or is it because they fear we're crazy people and they'd never get out alive?) I've never been keen to start a formal farm-stay business, because neither of us feels suited to the sort of entertainment we think we'd have to offer if we did; but having people who come as friends, whether we know them yet or not, feels quite different.
Thus we would like to have Tree friends. The arrangement could be that you sponsor the protection of a tree and you get visiting rights. You might treat it as an opportunity to be involved in something tangible and worthwhile, or as a way of buying an entitlement to a holiday somewhere different.
I can't quite decide whether this is a great idea or dreadful one. If you don't like it, buy someone a goat or chicken for Christmas instead. If you like the concept, write to us via the Contact Us button at the top of the page and we'll talk trees and fencing.
If you think it's a really good idea, we also need a new tractor!