A community share offer has been launched to buy the land for Jubilee, Northern Ireland’s first community-owned farm.
More than 40 people attended the launch event, at City Church Cafe in Belfast, where project leaders set out plans to raise £310,000 to purchase a small farm, with organic pigs, poultry, goats and vegetables.
Jubilee, which has been trading from a temporary site in Larne, Co Antrim, plans an internship programme on the farm, and hopes to develop glamping facilities.
Since it began operations, more than 100 people have joined its monthly community volunteer days and almost 100 primary schoolchildren have attended the curriculum-based nature education classes.
Twenty-four families have purchased a subscription to the pig club and received a quarter pig’s worth of free range pork in return.
And at a Bioblitz Festival of Science and Nature in June, more than 400 members of the public participated in a 24 -our programme of walks, talks and activities, with traditional music and a free-range hog roast thrown in for good measure.
Having already raised £165,000 from existing supporters to buy the farmhouse with a Pioneer community share offer during the summer, they are now raising an additional £145,000 to buy the remaining 13.5 acres of land, as well as polytunnels and other equipment, by Christmas.
Managing director Dr Jonny Hanson said, “Becoming a member of Jubilee Farm is the perfect opportunity for individuals, families, schools, churches, and community groups to come together and invest in a community co-operative that works for the benefit of everyone.”
He quoted Martin Luther King, who said “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” Dr Hanson added: “To fight back the economic uncertainties of this region, from Brexit to climate change to food supplies that work for communities, Jubilee Farm is our ‘apple tree’.”
At the launch, environmentalists Rev Richard Kerr and Jim Kitchen, endorsed the sustainable community co-operative, set to create economic, ecological, social and spiritual value.
Tiziana O’Hara, from the region’s co-op sector body Co-operative Alternatives, said: “We worked with a very committed board and volunteers and prepared the community share offer through the HIVE programme. The offer was also awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark.”