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  • Posted July 27th, 2022

    Consider gifting land to the Ecological Land Coop to support agroecological farming

    Consider gifting land to the Ecological Land Coop to support agroecological farming

    Do you have land that you would like to ensure stays in ecological agriculture in the future? Would you like your land to support the next generation of agroecological farmers?

    The Ecological Land Cooperative is a not-for-profit community benefit cooperative, creating access to land for new entrants to ecological farming.

    We have huge ambitions, but we need your help. We are inviting landowners to consider gifting land to the ELC, to help support a new generation of agroecological farmers- now and into the future.

    We want to see a living, working countryside where land is used for the good of rural economies, food security and the natural world.

    The ELC achieves this vision by developing clusters of low-impact smallholdings, which are held in perpetuity for ecological agriculture. We create opportunities for new entrants to agroecological to buy or rent the land on  affordable 150 year leases, providing access to land that would otherwise be unattainable for many.

    Since the purchase of our first site in Mid-Devon in 2009, the ELC has flourished. We have supported new farming entrants to create nine agroecological enterprises over five sites, with more smallholdings in the pipeline.

    We have big aspirations here at the ELC, yet our largest challenge is accessing land.

    You can help support agroecological farming in the UK by gifting land to the Ecological Land Cooperative. All our land is protected for ecological agriculture in perpetuity, and managed sensitively with the needs of biodiversity and the local community in mind.

    We understand that gifting land is not possible for many landowners, but we would also be interested to speak to you if you have suitable land for sale at a favourable rate.

    Next steps

    Please read through the Frequently Asked Questions page to find out more about the Ecological Land Cooperative, how we manage our land and smallholdings, and how you can gift your land.

    If you would like to find out more about supporting the Ecological Land Cooperative through gifts of land, please contact Stella Peyerl, our Site Development Manager, by emailing [email protected].

    For farmers

    High land prices and limited government support make it really difficult for new entrants to farming to get started. With the average age of UK farmers pushing 60, it’s vital that a new, diverse generation are supported into farming. Here at the Ecological Land Cooperative, we develop truly affordable smallholdings for new entrants to agroecological farming, making access to land a reality for all – not just the few.

    For nature

    The farming sector is under growing scrutiny for damage to biodiversity, habitats and ecosystem. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here at the Ecological Land Cooperative, we believe that we can achieve food security without undermining nature. We develop affordable smallholdings for new entrants to agroecological farming, to allow them to restore nature alongside running a profitable farming business.

    Each of our smallholdings is subject to an ecological management plan, which we monitor annually. Greenham Reach, our oldest site, situated in Mid-Devon, has shown significant ecological gains since 2009. Over 500 metres of new hedgerows have been planted, alongside several acres of native coppice trees and productive orchards, adding habitat and carbon sequestration potential on site. Once degraded pasture, recent ecological reports have shown that the mosaic of sensitively managed grazing, tree cover, and perennial and annual horticultural areas meant the site “may now be of considerable local importance for nectar and pollen-feeding insects…. and an important site for demonstrating techniques and possibilities for environmental enhancement in a very small area”.

    Soil health is also thought to have improved on the Greenham Reach site. Each smallholding manages their soil differently, from totally no-dig to minimum amounts of manual and mechanical tilling. Nevertheless, the addition of manures and composts within growing areas have increased soil organic matter content from 7.6% to 10.3%, helping to support a thriving soil food web and nutrition cycling.

    For climate

    Climate change is the biggest threat humanity faces, and farming needs to rise to the challenge. We believe that by careful land management and reduction of energy intensive inputs, agriculture can be a force for good in tackling climate change. Here at the Ecological Land Cooperative we develop affordable smallholdings for new entrants to agroecological farming, supporting them to feed local communities whilst farming in a way that benefits the global climate.

    Through our robust ecological management plans we require our farmers to actively reduce their enterprises’ greenhouse gas emissions. This includes providing offgrid electricity for the site, reducing the amount of traffic, and prohibiting the use of energy intensive chemical fertilisers. Additionally, we encourage farmers to increase the carbon sequestration potential of their farms through planting hedgerows, wind breaks, and areas of woodland.

    For ever

    Building up a successful farm business takes years, and stewarding land for nature and climate takes generations. However, the average lease for farm tenants in the UK is only five years. Here at the Ecological Land Cooperative, we develop truly affordable smallholdings for new entrants to agroecological farming, and offer multi-generational leases of 150 years. We manage our land for the long-term, holding it in perpetuity for the good of our farmers, nature, and rural communities.

    The planning permission we seek for on-site residential accommodation requires that the land will always have an agricultural tie on it. This means that the land will always be used for agricultural enterprises. By selling leaseholds instead of freeholds to our farmers, it ensures that land will automatically revert back to the ELC should the tenant decide to discontinue farming on the site. However, our preferred scenario is that our farmers feel secure to invest in the land and build an enterprise to pass on down the generations.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


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