The farm and the surrounding land dates back to medieval times. It was gifted to the first occupants by the monks of St Dogmael’s Abbey. Then, over the centuries, farmers worked these fields. Cattle grazed. Crops grew. The land would have been well trodden. Every inch turned and used. The sturdy stone buildings providing shelter from the harsh Atlantic fronts.
And those walls that protected people then, still stand strong today.
It has been a long time since the farm actually worked as a farm. Nature has softened the edges. Many things have grown. It is so green here. Vivid, bright, vibrant. The upside of all the rain we get.
Which is fortunate, because when The DO Lectures founders Clare and David Hieatt first arrived, they didn’t know a great deal about rearing animals. But they do know a thing or two about rearing great ideas. So they turned it into The Ideas Farm.
Now the farm feeds dreams, not cows.
Our home is far from everywhere. And it is also far from perfect. At best, it’s at least a five-hour drive from London. The instructions are: ‘Leave London. Head west. Stop when you hit water’. Sounds simple. But there really is no easy way to get here.
And yet, there is something to be said about being out on the edge. On the fringe. Away from the mainstream. It brings about a sense of deeper connection. Of optimism. Of tranquility. Of abundance. The possibility of a different world.
Because in the space that the edge creates, great things often happen.
There is also something courageous about being on the edge. Being in the bit between two worlds. Being the first to brave the storm, as it drives in off the ocean. That energy can help you feel alive. It can give you fresh perspective. Space to think, and dream.
And those feelings that come from being in a place that is on the edge are firmly woven into the fabric of The DO Lectures.
When David and Clare first moved to the farm, the old stone buildings had sat empty for years. Now, slowly, they have been reclaimed. Given new life as a home for The DO Lectures. For us the restoration is not about reviving historical context. But it is about honouring the history of these walls. Celebrating the repairs and adaptations over the years, rather than hiding them away.
Here, concrete lintels, blockwork walls and corrugated metal roofing sit alongside old slate, lime mortar and fading limewash. They contain the relics of will, hard work, and weather.
We too know that we are merely passing through. One day, The DO Lectures will be just another chapter in the history of these walls. A brief moment in time. A space where great ideas were shared and people came and found a new lease of life.
One day, a new future will arrive.
And so we have an eye on that as much as on the past. When we add something, we make sure it can just as easily be removed. Because when we are gone, others will come. They will breathe yet more life into these spaces. And future generations of the barn owls that live above the Lecture Barn will want to call this place home too.
But for now, it is our home. Home to the Hieatt family. Home to The DO Lectures family. And, for one magical weekend every year, yours too.
They would tell of feast and famine. Of flood and drought. Of laughter and pain. They would whisper of farmers’ tales of troubles, told while taking refuge from the elements. They would remind us of the families of barn owls, so silent throughout winter. And of all the swallows, signaling springtime, as they return home with their young.
And now, for a time, these walls hear tales of passion. Of love and endeavour. Stories of struggle and stories of inspiration. And these words too will have found their way into the walls of mortar and stone. Creating new history and texture as they do so.
The DO Lectures talks are held in the cowshed. It isn’t all that large. And that’s just how we like it. We repaired the cowshed only where it was needed. The stalls were removed and the floor made just that bit more steady. But we left untouched all that we found beauty in. The soft-green moss covered stone. The fading limewash. The peeling paint.
We wanted simply to add to the story of the building. Not undo all that was done before.
DO started as a ‘Tuesday company’. We would meet once a week on Tuesdays, in what we call the Chicken Shed. It is in fact the old forge building on the farm. And it is rather humble. There is a small woodburner. It has a hotplate to boil a kettle. And there is just one electric radiator.
Over the years the team has grown. And so have the working days. But still, to this day, the Chicken Shed remains DO HQ. These walls once forged steel. Now they forge ideas and inspiration for our community of DOers.
Clare and David Hieatt dreamt up The DO Lectures on this farm. It still hosts DO Wales to this day. It is also their home. They live here, year round, alongside their two daughters.
The Farmhouse sits very close to all the outbuildings. The gin bar is in their cellar. The new shower building has their laundry room on the back. Food from the vegetable garden is used in the meals we all share at DO Wales. Even the flowers that decorate the spaces at the event make their way back onto the Hieatt’s kitchen table.
David and Clare have said that DO Wales is like hosting a giant dinner party. One where all these new and amazing people come to your home and share their stories and give so much of themselves. They open up their home, and people come and open up in return. It’s a good exchange.
And yet, foremost, the DO Farm is the Hieatts’ home. It’s where they find their own peace and quiet. It does not host a different event every weekend. Too much love, care and attention goes into the preparation of any DO Lectures event for that. The spaces being slowly, carefully adapted especially. From the planting of the first seeds in the flower garden to building a place to brush your teeth with one of the best views in the bay.