Grundon opens doors for Woodoaks Farm

The installation of two magnificent barn doors at The Black Barn at Woodoaks Farm, near Maple Cross, has opened up new opportunities for events and activities to take place in the 16th Century Grade II listed barn.

The work was made possible thanks to a £20,000 grant from Grundon Waste Management, which recently sent along a group of volunteers to find out more about life on the farm.

They spent time in the barn before working alongside Woodoaks Farm’s own volunteers and helpers from Chiltern Rangers CIC, tasked with clearing a dell area in Ladywalk Woods in preparation for future educational visits and potential forest school classes.

Ready for action - the Grundon volunteers in front of the new barn doors
Ready for action - the Grundon volunteers in front of the new barn doors

Kirsti Santer, Grundon’s Head of Marketing & Communications, said: “The Black Barn now looks amazing and, with the big doors in place, it gives the barn a whole new lease of life for activities and events.

“We had such a brilliant day volunteering and felt as though we really made a difference. All the volunteers were so passionate about their work and gave us lots of tips as we got to grips with the coppicing and clearing the woodland areas, we thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to be part of the ongoing Woodoaks story.”

Kirsti Santer

Head of Marketing & Communications at Grundon

Their work saw dead hedges created, Hazel wood coppiced, dangerous or dying trees removed, litter taken off site and additional light created for flora and fauna to flourish.

The Black Barn Project is seen as central to Woodoaks Farm’s vision of creating a dynamic and sustainable food and farming hub, with a year-round education and activity programme designed to empower people to become countryside champions, wildlife warriors and food and farming heroes.

Future plans including repurposing the existing old farm buildings alongside the barn in order to create fully accessible education, catering and event spaces.

Located at the Northern end of Colne Valley Regional Park near Maple Cross, Woodoaks Farm was donated to the Soil Association Land Trust by the Findlay family in 2020. Its focus is on increasing sustainable farming by producing good locally-grown food, improving wildlife and helping people change the way people think about food and nature.

Rose Lewis, the Soil Association’s Programme Manager for Woodoaks, explains: “We are very grateful to the support from Grundon, which has enabled us to continue the transformation of Woodoaks Farm into a community asset for everyone to enjoy, alongside protecting its buildings and landscapes for future generations.”

Grundon's Kirsti Santer and Harry Bond get to grips with coppicing on their volunteer day at Woodoaks Farm

Grundon's Kirsti Santer and Harry Bond get to grips with coppicing

Taking a well-earned break - the team of Grundon volunteers

Taking a well-earned break - the team of Grundon volunteers


Grundon’s grant, which came via the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF), was managed by environmental charity Groundwork South, which is working across the South of England to create stronger, healthier communities, responsible business and greater prospects for local people.

Groundwork South’s Michelle Jones, also speaking on behalf of Colne Valley Regional Park, said: “Groundwork South is delighted to support Grundon Waste Management to fund these projects at Woodoaks Farm. One of the objectives of the Colne Valley Regional Park is to support local farming, and Woodoaks Farm is a remarkable example of community and environmental vision for our rural economy.”

The latest £20,000 brings the waste company’s grant funding for Woodoaks Farm up to £60,000, with previous donations spent on installing double fencing to protect newly-planted hedgerows at the 300 acre farm.

Right across the farm, ongoing work is focused on adopting organic methods of farming and land management. The hedgerows, which are vulnerable to being eaten by deer and rabbits, are an essential part of the landscape, helping to stop soil erosion, providing wildlife habitats and increasing biodiversity alongside other projects such as wildflower meadows and pond restoration.

Incredibly popular with visitors, Woodoaks Farm provides great opportunities for walking across its many footpaths and includes a seasonal flower farm, artist’s studio, Sunday market garden and a brewing company, plus The Tea Shack.