Jude Dunn Land Fund and ‘The Microbial Forest’

May 1, 2023

When my good friend, Jude Dunn, died last year a couple of friends and I took up the challenge to “establish a grant or loan giving Trust Fund to help women living and working in Scotland who are involved in sustainable agriculture/land-based activities and soil remediation work”, as per Jude’s wishes.

Jude was a WWOOF host for many years. She was described as thoughtful, having strong energy, feeling things intensely, a good sense of humour, dedicated to self improvement and ultimately the healing of the planet.

Jude Dunn Land Fund – Expression of Interest

Jude’s Land Fund is a bequest set up to support women living and working in Scotland who are involved in sustainable agriculture/land-based activities and soil remediation work.

We are offering two awards of £20,000. We are looking for applicants with existing land resources
who would like to expand their current project, or applicants who need to purchase essential
resources, which may include land, to start a project from scratch.

We welcome applicants who are committed to working and restoring land (e.g. food production,
coppicing, training others in land work), open to sharing their experiences with others – such as
volunteers and interns – and are ready to start implementing their proposal within six months of
receiving the reward.

  • Are you passionate about sustainable land use?
  • Are you committed to soil remediation and biodiversity?
  • Are you open to working with the local community?

If so, please describe how your training and background experience has led you to this point along
with an outline of your skills and training, and of your project, including whether you have land
resources, how you would work with volunteers and/or the local community, outline costs, and how
this funding would enable you to do things you can’t do now? Maximum 500 words. Detailed
costings and designs will be sought at the next selection round.

Deadline: 31 August 2023
Please email a Word (or Word compatible) document to judedunnlandfund@hotmail.com

Don’t forget to include your name, email address, phone number and location on the first page of your
document as all applications will be anonymised before being passed to the judges.
We will be in touch with you once we have created a short-list. You will be informed regardless of
whether you are short-listed or not.

More about Jude and ‘The Microbial Forest’

“Dendritic (or tree-shaped) patterns can be found throughout nature on every scale, from the veins of a leaf, to the drainage system of a river, to the vascular system of our lungs or the branching dendrites in our brain. Some patterns are hierarchical, like the branches of a tree leading to the trunk, while others amass to maximise diffusion and edge, like the mycorrhizae I forage from the microbial level. These patterns exist to exchange resources, either to gather, or diffuse, or to do both, and in so doing contribute to create, maintain and sustain life.” Jude Dunn

When she wrote these words for the Reforesting Scotland Journal in 2017, my friend Jude Dunn was ahead of the curve with her practical soil remediation experiments on her Welsh smallholding. Harvesting white mycelial threads from the lowest layers of woodland leaf litter to make probiotic fertilisers and fermented teas for different soils was the nexus of her project ‘The Microbial Forest.’

The lower inches of woodland duff – leaf litter and the soft, crumbly layer of soil underneath – were of immense importance to Jude. Before she died, one of several ventures she was working on was The Microbial Forest; a small business providing probiotic animal, plant and soil feeds fermented from native microbes on a low-impact holding in Wales. Unfortunately, I cannot find anyone who knew what this entailed. I would dearly love to resurrect Jude’s soil healing work, hence this appeal.

But I must keep in mind that Jude’s wider wish was to help women living and working in Scotland (to where Jude desperately wished to return) who are involved in sustainable agriculture/land-based activities and soil remediation work.

We have a bequest from Jude’s estate to be used to help women living and working in Scotland who are involved in sustainable agriculture/land-based activities and soil remediation work – a huge amount of money to most, but a drop in the land-ownership ocean, so if the biggest barrier turns out to be owning land, I’m not sure we can help with that. But we dearly want to use this money to enable as many women as possible to sustainably work the land here in Scotland – something Jude so wished to do herself.

Words written by Mandy Meikle and Liz Murdoch. Some parts have been previously published here, on the Agricology blog.

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