About the eco-farm future project
We have bought a 19.5-acre plot of land that we plan to use for this project. We want to find a group of people who already want to start new eco-farms of their own, who have the practical farming skills and motivation but don’t have what they need in terms of money, building skills, off grid living skills or who might be put off by the diverse organisational challenges involved in setting a farm up from scratch. We will work directly with these people to enable them to plan their farms and their relationship to each other. We hope the project will be able to reduce some of the risks involved in establishing a farm. However, there are still risks involved and the success of the project relies on a lot of hard work and engagement from residents with each other and the wider community.
To create a replicable model of a community of small, independent ecofarms which will enable people and the land to be productive while also increasing biodiversity, living and farming in a climate friendly way, and benefitting not just the farmers but also the broader community
Why are we doing this?
In 2003 we bought 18 acres of bare land with the aims of making it productive, environmentally friendly, and good for people. In practice, it was very hard to achieve these objectives but we have built up a diverse holding and learned a lot about what has worked well, what hasn’t and how we could have done it better. Over time, we have increasing numbers of people telling us they would love to do what we are doing but can’t see how to make it happen.
We want to use our experience to help others overcome some of the obstacles that make it so hard to do. There are some things that we think are key in making it work – living onsite off grid, maintaining positive relationships as a priority, having security of tenure, keeping costs low. We believe that if we could set up a replicable project which enables more people to start up eco-farms it could make a positive contribution to addressing many of the key challenges we face by increasing biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions/sequestering carbon, increasing employment, improving diets, rehabilitating people/improving wellbeing, increasing resilience etc. (See Chris Smaje’s book ‘A Small Farm Future’).
There are other organisations with similar aims, e.g. the Ecological Land Co-op, which buys plots of land, gets planning permission and sells/rents them to prospective farmers.
Our project is different because we want the potential farmers to form a group and then work together to make most of the key decisions about what the project will look like. This means we will be asking a lot of our potential farmers, but we think this will lead to a strong sense of community and may also may help to keep prices low. We will be clear about the non-negotiable parameters of the project (see below) – basically the elements that we believe are vital to its success – and, of course, we will select residents who agree with them – beyond this our main focus will be on helping to establish good relationships between the potential residents and participating in the discussions about how to proceed.
- To provide secure and affordable land for the setting up of very small eco-farms. This will provide low-impact livelihoods for residents, regenerate land and produce good, healthy food for local communities while increasing sustainability and resilience in a naturally biodiverse, living and working landscape where land is valued and shared
- To keep relationships, wellbeing and ethics central to the project
- To create an interactive online platform for sharing knowledge and experiences as the project develops which we hope will encourage similar initiatives and help to evolve the model