Two new community businesses in Wales stress green credentials

WoodsWork wants to crowdfund land for carbon offsetting; and Garrison Farm wants to build an eco-friendly veterans’ rehabilitation centre

Wales Co-operative Centre has announced two new community interest companies based around enivronmental principles.

Both projects have been set up with guidance and support from Social Business Wales, a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

The first, WoodsWork CIC, enables businesses to offset their carbon emissions and create wildlife habitat by investing in crowdfunded green pastures on underused land.

WoodsWork became a CIC in April 2020 with a mission to acquire underused land under threat of development near Wrexham where they will plant trees and hedgerows, which will then by supported by local investment.

Co-founder Alison Fuller told Wales Co-operative Centre: “I came up with the idea last winter to provide a platform for local people to help buy areas of land to protect them for the future while at the same time enabling local businesses to offset their carbon emissions locally.”

The land will offer habitat for wildlife and space to the community for recreation, forest workshops and other activities – with the green space bringing community benefits in terms of improved wellbeing, mental health and air quality.

WoodsWork is now looking to acquire land through community fundraising – with one plot already in its sights. Businesses will be given options to offset their carbon emissions with trees and hedgerows planted in their name.

“I couldn’t have done it without Social Business Wales,” added Ms Fuller, “as I wouldn’t have known where to start, also the free training classes have been helpful and informative. We have already seen a couple of suitable pieces of land to create our dream.”

Meanwhile, Garrison Farm CIC is hoping to create an eco-village to use a rehabilitation service for military veterans. This will be a low-impact rural enterprise that supports charity work with veterans; staff and volunteers will mainly live on site or within walking distance.

It hopes to become financially independent by sustainably generating sufficient income from the goods produced on the land to support its residents and charity work.

Garrison Farm is looking to purchase and develop a site where it will provide office space, meeting rooms, volunteers and organisational support for non-profit organisations which want to collaborate on setting up a one-stop shop of veteran support.

The team has already identified a potential site and has launched a crowdfunder; it is looking for people with practical experience of permaculture, renewable energy, digital marketing, ecovillage design and One Planet Development planning policy applications.