Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) has put out a call for land workers to take on smallholding plots at its Orchard Park site in East Cornwall.
The site is a former dairy pasture nestled just below Bodmin moor, near to Callington and Liskeard, following ELC’s practice of buying a parcel of land of around 20 acres and dividing it into three to five small farm plots of between three and 10 acres.
The co-op applies for planning permission for agriculturally tied rural workers’ dwellings for each plot so smallholders can live on their land. ELC says it also provides shared infrastructure on site which includes a track, a shared barn, a rainwater collection system, and a PV array on the barn roof. And new farmers are offered help with business planning and agricultural mentoring.
ELC then sells a 150-year lease for the plot with permission for the smallholder to site a temporary dwelling on their land.
“We aim to keep the leases affordable for new entrants to farming,” adds the co-op. “The price of the lease is set to recover ELC’s costs of buying and developing land and is subsidised with our own fundraising. There are also options to pay the cost of lease over time.”
Initially the planning permission is temporary for five years so that the farmers can prove they are engaged in farm-scale agriculture and demonstrate the financial viability of their businesses and a functional need for them to be living on their land.
Before the end of this five years, and once the businesses have been established, ELC will apply for permanent permission for smallholders to live on their farms.