Be part of a living, working countryside: apply for a small farm lease with the Ecological Land Cooperative

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Apply for a small farm lease with the ELC

We hear from the Ecological Land Cooperative about exciting opportunities ahead for aspiring ecological farmers to apply for a small farm lease.


Over the next two years we will be creating a number of opportunities for new entrant farmers to establish ecological farm businesses at our upcoming sites in East Sussex, Somerset and South Wales.

Our model

The ELC model is to buy a parcel of land of around 20 acres and divide it into 3-5 small farm plots of between 3 and 10 acres. We apply for planning permission for agriculturally tied, rural workers’ dwellings for each plot so that our new smallholders can live on their land. As part of the development, the ELC provides shared infrastructure on site which includes a track, a shared barn, a rainwater collection system, and a PV array on the barn roof. We also provide support to our new farmers in the form of business planning and agricultural mentoring. You can find out more about our model here.

We then sell a 150 year lease for the plot with permission for the smallholder to site a temporary dwelling on their land. We aim to keep the leases affordable for new entrants to farming. The price of the lease is set to recover ELC’s costs of buying and developing land and is subsidised with our own fundraising. There are also rent to buy and rental options for leaseholders.

Initially the planning permission is temporary for 5 years so that the farmers can prove the financial viability of their ecological businesses and also the functional need for them to be living on their land. Before the end of this 5 years, and once the businesses have been established, the ELC will apply for permanent permission for smallholders to live on their farms.

Join the ELC as an ecological farmer

We’re on the hunt for passionate landworkers, farmers, growers and entrepreneurs who are ready or will be ready in the next 1-2 years to take on affordable leases with us at these sites. We’d like to develop good relationships over an extended period of time with people who are interested in becoming ELC stewards, to help you identify where you need to gain more experience in order to take on this exciting challenge and commitment.

We don’t necessarily expect you to be ready to go today. If in doubt please give us a call. We want to hear from passionate growers who are committed to gaining enough experience to set up a small farm business.

To get started we ask that you read all the information in the Apply section of our website, including our interview with current ELC tenant James Dexter; our step-by-step guide to our application process; our guide to our lease agreement and the information sheets for our upcoming sites in East Sussex, Somerset and South Wales.

If you have any questions send an email to [email protected] or call 01273 766672.

Do you know someone who could be a future ELC steward?

We want to share this opportunity with as many people as possible, including people who are outside of our current network. If you know someone who might be interested, please forward this to them. Thank you!


Ecological Land Cooperative

Our mission at the Ecological Land Cooperative is to provide affordable opportunities for ecological land-based livelihoods in the UK. We support rural regeneration by developing affordable sites for farming, forestry and other rural enterprises which are viable and ecologically beneficial.