A community land trust is aiming to raise £326,000 to buy a South Devon farm where it can develop eco-friendly food production.
The Biodynamic Land Trust launched a community share offer over the weekend in its bid to buy the 36-acre Week Farm, near Totnes. It wants to convert the wheat and maize producer into a learning and demonstration farm for biodynamic and organic food production.
It says it will use ecological methods to restore soil fertility, increase biodiversity, enhance landscape and conserve nature. The co-op also aims to benefit the community through good food, permissive land access, research, education, training, apprenticeships and volunteering.
Martin Large, director of the Biodynamic Land Trust Community Benefit Society, said: “The Week Farm co-op buyout offers people the opportunity to invest in their community’s farming future for healthy food security.
“Just as we saved Fordhall Farm, when 8,000 people invested £800,000, so we can secure Week Farm into co-op trusteeship.”
Mr Large and Greg Pilley of Stroud Common Wealth helped Charlotte and Ben Hollins save Fordhall, England’s first community-owned farm, by setting up a co-op Community Benefit Society in 2006.
“Our aim is to create a beautiful, biodiverse, abundant small farm producing fruit, vegetables, eggs, and juices and jams, all sold locally,” added Marina O’Connell of the Apricot Centre in Essex, who will farm the land. “We’ll offer training and also access to the farm for children to find out about food, both growing it and eating it.”
The farm will become part of Britain’s first and biggest Transition Town network, Transition Town Totnes. This community-led charity aims to strengthen the local economy, reduce the cost of living and build resilience for a future with less cheap energy and a changing climate.
Tim Crabtree, senior lecturer at Schumacher College in Totnes, said: “Schumacher College welcomes the addition of a biodynamic farm to the growing cluster of innovative farming approaches developing around Totnes. Our students will benefit greatly from the research and training opportunities which the new farm will offer.”
• For details and a downloadable prospectus see the Biodynamic Land Trust’s website (PDF).