The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) has purchased a second site in East Sussex, aiming to continue carrying out its vision of developing small-scale, sustainable farms.
The co-operative has bought the 18.5 acre field in a bid to help build a vibrant, living countryside where small-holder farmers work together to benefit other people and the planet.
It follows on from the success of a first site at Greenham Reach in Devon. Through a share offer, the ELC successfully raised £328,350 in order to fund the purchase. There, the cluster of three smallholdings operate as independent businesses but work co-operatively to take care of site management.
The same model will apply to the second site. The enterprise raised the money for the East Sussex site through community shares and a loan from the A Team Foundation – an organisation founded to improve food access, quality, education, research and environmental stewardship through funding projects and charitable organisations.
Oli Rodker, executive director for the ELC, said: “We are delighted with the purchase of our new site in East Sussex. We can now get on with our plans to use this land for ecological farming where good food, conservation and ecology sit side by side – now and into the future.”
The ELC is a democratic social enterprise working to make land accessible for new entrants to small-scale ecological farming in England. It has identified two key barriers for those who wish to live with the land as being high land prices and planning consent.
Our vision is of a living, working countryside contributing to a bio-diverse environment, strong rural communities and a safe, just food system
It works to solve these issues by owning the freehold of each smallholding in order to protect it for agricultural use and keep it affordable. By buying larger sites for a lower price, the ELC then distributes the cost of infrastructure, planning applications and ecological site monitoring across the smallholdings – therefore spreading the cost. The smallholders are encouraged to work together and offer mutual support.
“This land purchase represents the next step in our development of ecological smallholdings in England,” said Cate Chapman, managing director of ELC. “Our vision is of a living, working countryside contributing to a bio-diverse environment, strong rural communities and a safe, just food system.”
Alongside the three at Greenham Reach, and the cluster at the new site in East Sussex, ELC aims to create 20 ecological smallholdings by 2020.
In order to present the work they do, as well as introduce some of the team, the ELC has also launched a short film featuring footage shot at the smallholdings.