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incredible opportunity to join a co-operative, low-impact smallholding project in Devon

Posted: Jun 21, 2013, by Shaun Chamberlin of the Ecological Land Co-op


the land at Greenham Reach

Here's some background to the Ecological Land Co-op's project in Devon, and here's a post celebrating the fact that they were successful in their planning application. Now they're looking for people. Over to Shaun.

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I am seeking one or more people with ecological growing experience who would like to help me establish a low-impact smallholding on a beautiful five-and-a-half acre piece of land on the Devon/Somerset border.

We have been working on the project for several years – the land is bought, and two months ago planning permission was secured to build a house on the site, so we are finally in a position to get started. Unfortunately, my close friend who was to be launching the project with me has pulled out at this late stage in order to move closer to his family, just weeks before we were due to move to the land. This is a blow on many levels, but the main practical difficulty is that he is the one who was to take the lead on the growing side – an area in which I am currently inexperienced.

A positive consequence though is that I am able to offer an opportunity to others who may be interested in living a low-impact lifestyle on the land, rent-free. Finding the right person or people to collaborate with could make this project feasible again.

There will also be two other adjoining smallholdings starting up at the same time, with whom we will be sharing a barn, rainwater collection, solar electricity and a permaculture-designed waste-water treatment (WET) system.  These facilities are already being installed by the Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC), through which the planning permission was attained.

If you look at the ELC website you will see the values that the project will have to support, and the Management Plan that we will have to abide by. You will notice that the ELC are also inviting applications to take on Plots B and C, but that these will cost £72,000 each. For many, this will be an exciting opportunity, but if you do not have that kind of money, or that arrangement would not suit you in other ways, you may wish to consider joining me on Plot A (my friend and I were selected by the ELC for Plot A through a prior public application process in 2011, but the original proposed holders of Plots B and C have since dropped out due to the unexpectedly long process of securing planning permission).

I have the costs of the land, house construction etc covered, and so am now seeking others who may be interested in living on site, whether short or long-term, and assisting me with implementing the land management plan designed with the permaculture expert Patrick Whitefield. Although I lack growing experience, I am a fit, healthy 33 year old, a fast learner, and deeply committed to building a life working the land.

Clearly this is an unusual opportunity, so I will not be able to move forward with all of those who make contact, but if you are a skilled grower who is serious about living a low-impact lifestyle, and if you are in a position to move to the land in the near future, then please drop me an email to <alifeontheland@gmail.com> as soon as possible, outlining your experience of growing and low-impact living and what excites you about this opportunity. Doubtless you will also have further questions, concerns etc, and I look forward to discussing these to see whether we can make this a dream opportunity for all concerned.

Shaun Chamberlin

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