Land is about more than just the production of food, fibre and fuel, or a site for construction; the way in which we use our land has profound impacts on us and on ecosystems, locally, nationally and globally. And although seldom acknowledged, the way in which we use our land also shapes our minds and hearts.
For all that our current lifestyles have degraded the land, we were born to inhabit it. There is a body of knowledge, old and new, that tells how to live lightly and abundantly on the earth. This knowledge will only spread as more people have direct experience of living and working in the woods and fields.
But our agricultural supply chains push out and exclude smaller producers. Our rural areas have experienced a kind of social cleansing and agricultural workers find the countryside unaffordable. Environmental and agricultural education projects are more often than not only there because of charitable funding and as such are seldom replicable, despite the need. The result is less and less of us with contact to nature and the loss of vital skills and knowledge.
The Ecological Land Cooperative will make land available for sustainable use. Where smallholdings are priced out of reach of a modest income, we will offer affordable leases and keep the land forever accessible. As people return to the country we will address loss of skills by sharing knowledge and providing training. Where the local supply chains to deliver the products of sustainable agriculture have disappeared, we will work with producers to rebuild them. And we will actively support educational and eco-tourism projects that involve people living in cities to address the ever widening disconnection between rural and urban areas, and the impacts of mass long distance tourism.
The Ecological Land Cooperative has a vision of greater ecological literacy and connection with nature. With that comes a wider concern for social change: we see sustainability as inextricably connected with issues of social justice, democracy and peaceful resolution of conflict. This is reflected in our policy and practice. In particular, our ecological criteria are more wide ranging than a limited definition of 'ecology' might suggest.