Gloucester agri co-op Stroud Micro Dairy has launched a £115,000 community share offer in a bid to secure full community ownership of its operations.
The dairy which produces raw milk, yoghurt and kefir from cows that keep the calves at foot, says it has had several years of rapid growth and put established the right team. Now it is looking to strengthen its capital infrastructure to improve its business offering and resilience.
Alongside this comes a conversion to to a co-operatively owned structure that builds on its CSA (community supported agriculture) model.
“The change in our structure, along with our planned investments, will see us grow to 600 members while offering a greater range of dairy products over the next five years,” it says.
“The farm will continue to evolve over the decades and this is a major first step transitioning from a scrappy start-up to a more established business.”
It plans to use funds from the share offer to acquire “full community ownership of the plant, livestock, contracts, goodwill, brand and concessions built up by the founders of the business”.
The co-op will also enlarge its herd to scale up production and meet growing demand; scale up and improve its Oakbrook Farm site “to achieve higher standards of productivity, sustainability, worker safety and quality control; and “refine, develop and document our systems for replication in other communities”.
Minimum individual investment for social investors and interest bearing shares is £500. For local community members only, the minimum individual investment is £50. Maximum individual investment is £20,000.
Current customers can become members for a minimum investment of £1; interest is 0-3% (normally credited as additional shares on the same terms); the share type is withdrawable, full risk; and the closing date is 20 December.
In its share offer document, the co-op says: “We believe that a dairy calf should stay with its mum instead of being separated at birth. Our calves stay with their mum for the first four to six weeks, after which they see her every day
until weaning at three months. This eases their transition to independence.
“Our Hereford bull, Damien, runs with the herd and all our calves go to our neighbour Stroud Community Agriculture, and other local farmers to live the life of a beef animal.”
It adds: “We believe that we farm better when we work with nature. We take a regenerative approach to farming: we promote plant and soil health through biodiversity and the balance of natural systems. We’re inspired by permaculture, biodynamics and organic farming, and bring all these ideas together to create a farm that has a positive regenerative effect on our land and local environment …This principle is also the driver behind our aspiration and steady progression towards becoming 100% grass fed.
“We promise to supply our community with healthy food that has a positive impact on the local environment … By becoming a co-operative, we aim to build on the relationship between farm and community that is at the heart of our success and increase our resilience further.”