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Plotgate's Story

In 2007 when the old county farm at Plotgate, on the outskirts of Barton St David, was split up & sold off, Chris Black bought 23 acres of it. Chris wanted to set up a project to create affordable housing in the countryside for people who wanted to live & work on the land; something as aspirational as Tinkers Bubble, in nearby Norton Covert, which was easier for people to relate to & understand – an alternative for the majority.


Roundhouse & Shire horse sharing the load at Tinkers Bubble
A group of people quickly came together who were interested in the newly named Plotgate Venture & Simon Fairlie took the lead in designing a plan for the project. This comprised of 2 smallholdings & a live/work project with 8 self-built eco-friendly homes. This model has changed very little in the last 7 years (See plan further down).

Initially the focus of the project was very much on the live/work aspect & drawing up a comprehensive planning proposal. Whilst this was happening, the land was grazed with sheep by a local farmer.

In 2010 Pete Wright from Tinkers Bubble decided to take on the lease for the first smallholding in hopes of setting up an all year round salad growing business there & eventually living on site. That winter he started planting willow as bio-fuel to heat the large greenhouse he planned to grow in. Pete submitted a planning proposal for his greenhouse in 2011 & after a prolonged planning battle was finally granted permission in 2013.

Meanwhile the second smallholding & live/work project were stagnating. In 2011 Dan Britton got involved through Chris & the transition movement in the South-West & proposed that they start developing the agricultural aspects of the project. This started with tree planting of Apple & Ash & in the winter of 2011 the first garden, on the live/work field was created. This garden was designed as a learning experience, both of the physical conditions on the land – the soil quality, microclimates & existing biodiversity, & for the people involved in Plotgate - how could they work together to create something & become a community. This project inspired Dan to submit a proposal in the winter of 2012 to create The Common Land project on the second of the two smallholding fields. In January of 2013 work began on a half-acre of this field creating an experimental grain garden.


The Grain Garden

Shortly after this chickens arrived on the garden in the live/work field & acted as an indicator of readiness for the greater responsibilities of livestock. This was a success & so we bought some Shetland sheep locally in the late summer. A barn went up in 2013 to accommodate hay for the sheep & the sheep themselves when necessary, which initially proved to be a contentious move with the local planning authority but which was granted in June 2014.  We have subsequently gained permission for a small greenhouse on the live/work field & hope these successes are an indication of good things to come. We brought cows to Plotgate in the spring of 2014 from Tinkers Bubble to great excitement from all.

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