About Us

Creating a Regenerative Community for All

In August 2022, three organisations came together with a shared vision: to create Bowden Pillars Future as a beacon for nature recovery, regenerative agriculture, and a regenerative community, complete with public access to land.

With considerable effort, hard work, and the philanthropic investment of others, we were able to acquire the farm and incorporate Bowden Pillars Future as a charitable community benefit society in December 2022.

Julia Davies and We have the Power led the acquisition of Bowden Pillars Farm, supported by philanthropic loans and donations from many other local people and philanthropists from further afield. They all share a passion for restoring land to nature and people.

Bowden Pillars Future Board Directors

James Shorten

Re:Set CIC

James has 30 years of experience as a planning consultant, in recent years focussing on climate issues, ecological building and community development. He holds an MSc in Planning from Reading University. He founded Regenerative Settlement CIC (ReSet) to further his aims of creating nature positive human development. He sits on the Devon Net Zero Task Force and co-authored the Devon Carbon Plan.

He runs a planning consultancy and sustainable building firm in Totnes and is lucky enough to live in the Bowden House Community.

Bob Mehew

The Apricot Centre

Bob holds degrees in Economics and Computer Science. The Apricot Centre, located at Huxhams Cross Farm, Dartington, is a 60-acre regenerative farm, growing fruit, vegetables, and grains. It also houses a well-being service for children and families, and the School of Regenerative Farming. Registered as biodynamic and organic, it embraces agroforestry and permaculture.

As partners in Dartington Mill, they produce wheat for milling and bread. The Apricot Centre benefits from a seasoned team and well-established market avenues, including CSA participation and beyond.

Harry Barton

Devon Wildlife Trust

Harry Barton, former CEO of Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) since 2011, oversaw substantial growth, acquiring new reserves, and pioneering beaver reintroduction in England. DWT is a key partner in the successful Upstream Thinking project and hosts the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre. Harry leads the Nature Recovery Network for Devon and specializes in managing rare culm grassland habitat.

Previously, he worked at Earth Trust, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Ruth Sutcliffe

Founder of Bowden Housing Co-operative

As a project co-manager, Ruth led the renovation of the historic Bowden Manor house, overseeing funding, legal matters, and financial planning while attracting new project members. Additionally, she serves as a trustee for Transition Homes CLT, focusing on the development of a 34-home eco-community in Dartington. In her early years in London, she co-founded the Area 10 art collective.

She recently completed a masters in Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College, earning a distinction for her work on conflict resolution in intentional communities.

Other members of the team developing the plans for Bowden Pillars Future include:

Peter Buckingham

Peter has spent most of his working life in the film business, understanding audiences and how to reach them. He has been involved in NGO’s and the private sector. (Channel 4, UK film council, Virgin, BFI as examples). He has been closely involved in innovative and thinking processes throughout.

In recent years he has trained and worked for the NHS Mental health trust as an Open Dialogue practitioner. He recently completed the 6 month residential course in sustainable horticulture at Schumacher College Dartington Devon. 

Sally Shell

Sally qualified as a barrister a long time ago and has spent the last thirty years holding legal and commercial affairs positions within the independent film/tv production sector, motherhood, and an integrative healing practice using homoeopathy, EFT, and family constellations, and has recently completed a two year training with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach in teaching trauma informed, inclusive and embodied mindfulness meditation.

Marina O’Connell

The Apricot Centre

Marina, a director at the Apricot Centre in Dartington, Devon, leads a rejuvenated 23-hectare farm that combines biodynamic farming, agroforestry, and permaculture design, all registered as biodynamic. The farm produces fruit, vegetables, eggs, and small-scale grains, offering training and well-being services for children and families. In partnership with a farm and bakery, they initiated "reclaim the grain."

The farm is set to host the new School for Regenerative Land-Based Systems starting in 2022. 

Join Us

Join Us in Creating a Regenerative Future

At Bowden Pillars Future, we are committed to creating a regenerative community that benefits both people and nature. Climate change and biodiversity loss are increasingly affecting our daily lives. Providing healthy, local food, connection to nature, and opportunities for living within the capacity of the planet are all ways to directly do something about these crises.

At Bowden Pillars we have an opportunity to show how things can be done differently.

Why is this important now?

The temperate rainforest that once covered the southwest region of the UK has mostly disappeared. Reports from the past 50 years reveal that 56% of wild plants and animals have declined, and 15% are at risk of extinction due to intensive agriculture and urban development. These factors reduce available space for wildlife and disrupt natural processes, such as functioning river floodplains.

Combined with climate change and biodiversity loss, this disconnect with nature leads to negative impacts on our daily lives, mental health, and access to local, healthy food.

At Bowden Pillars Future, we understand these problems and are dedicated to creating a solution by integrating nature and wild spaces into our food production and built environment.