Reclaiming land for ecological farming through the Ecological Land Co-operative (UK)

“As Simon Fairlie bluntly describes in The Land magazine, “nearly half the country is owned by 40,000 land millionaires, or 0.06% of the population, while most of the rest of us spend half our working lives paying off the debt on a patch of land barely large enough to accommodate a dwelling and a washing line.” *

The Ecological Land Co-operative is “working on a model for actually reclaiming land from industrialized agriculture and making it available to local, small-scale agroecology and permaculture projects”

Here is a video on one of their first successful projects:

“Filmed in December 2014, this video takes a look at life at Greenham Reach, a cluster of three new affordable smallholdings for new entrants to ecological agriculture. Greenham Reach is in Devon, England. The project was developed by the Ecological Land Co-operative, a social enterprise set up to widen access to land in England.”

Watch it here:

An explanation by Shaun Chamberlin:

“Since the two key barriers to the simple aim of living and working on a piece of land are extortionate land prices and the intricate absurdities of the planning permission system, we have been pioneering a way to get around both.

The basic idea of the Co-operative is that it buys land that has been, or is at risk of being, intensively managed. It then uses its expertise and experience to oversee the process of securing planning permission for building low-impact homes on site and putting in basic off-grid infrastructure.

Once this is achieved, the land is made available at an affordable price to people who have the skills to manage it ecologically, but who could not otherwise afford to do so. The money received from the purchases (or rental, if they prefer) by new residents then goes towards the co-op’s purchase of another intensively managed site, where the same process is put into action, allowing more land to be “rescued” from industrialised agriculture.

Planning permission for homes is secured before prospective residents of a site are asked to make any financial commitment, but they do have to agree to a strict management plan which requires that the land is always managed so as to maintain and enhance habitats, species diversity, and landscape quality, and to facilitate the provision of low-impact livelihoods. There are also conditions stipulating that if they ever want to sell the land and move on, then it must be sold at an affordable price, so that it is never priced out of reach. Beyond these requirements, the land is theirs to steward as they see fit.”

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