“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 doing so contribute to create, maintain and sustain life.”
When she wrote these words for the Reforesting Scotland Journal in 2017, 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 heart project: the Microbial Forest.
The integrity of soil was of immense importance to Jude. So were educating and sharing her lifestyle, living simply, and community-building. She was a WWOOF host for many years, described by those who worked with her as thoughtful, feeling things intensely; having strong energy, a good sense of humour, dedicated to self improvement and ultimately the healing of the planet.
Jude’s plan had been to return to Scotland where she had worked on a number of ecological projects in Fife and the Lothians, and continue to promote native microbes. When she became ill, Jude decided instead to establish a Trust Fund to help women living and working in Scotland and involved in sustainable agriculture/land-based activities and soil remediation work. Jude died in Edinburgh in early 2021 and the Trust is managed by her friends Mandy Meikle, Liz Murdoch and Emma Chapman.
Expressions of Interest
This year, the Jude Dunn Land Fund is offering two awards of £20,000, one for applicants with existing land resources who would like to expand their current project, and the other for applicants who need to purchase essential resources, which may include land, to start a project from scratch.
Women applicants are welcomed who are committed to working and restoring land (including 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.
If you are passionate about sustainable land use…
If you are committed to soil remediation and biodiversity…
If you are open to working with the local community…
… 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
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.
The organisers will be in touch with you once they have created a short-list. You will be informed regardless of whether you are short-listed or not.