Join the ELC as an Ecological Farmer

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 they are engaged in farm-scale agriculture and demonstrate both the financial viability of their ecological businesses and also a functional need for them to be living on their land in order to maintain them. 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.

Over the course of the next two years the ELC will be creating four new ecological small farm sites with 8 plots available for new entrants to farming to establish viable, ecological, small-scale farm businesses. Our sites are in East Sussex, Somerset and South Wales and you can find out more about each one here.

We’re on the hunt for passionate landworkers and ecological entrepreneurs who are ready now, or will be ready in the next 1-2 years, to build an ecological growing business on an ELC plot.

We don’t expect you to be ready to go today. We are very keen to hear from you if you are passionate and committed to gaining enough experience to set up a small farm business. This business could be any land-based enterprise – from fruit and veg, to animal products & dairy, fibre, fuel and medicine.

We'd like to develop good relationships over an extended period of time with people who are interested in becoming ELC stewards, to help us get to know each other and perhaps to identify where you need to gain more experience in order to take on this exciting challenge and commitment.

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

A step by step guide to the application process

Our application process is open-ended and its stages are not set in stone. The steps described below provide an outline of the kind of process applicants can expect. We expect that every applicant’s experience of the process will be slightly different because every applicant will be at a different stage in their journey of being ready to take on an ELC holding. If you have any questions please just get in touch! You can email Oliver: members@ecologicalland.coop or call 01273 766 672 to speak to Sonia or Oliver.

  1. Is it right for you?

    Read the material in this section of our website to decide if you think this might be the right opportunity for you.

  2. Are you ready?

    We’ll arrange a short, informal telephone interview to confirm you’re ready to apply

  3. Are you still interested?

    We’ll provide you with an application form, business plan template and more info about the site(s) you’re interested in to help you to decide if you want to take your application to the next stage.

  4. Ready to apply?

    Carefully read our example lease and management plan, complete the application form and start work on your business plan.

  5. Meet us on the land

    Visit one or more of our sites in your own time and attend one of our quarterly open days to meet us face to face.

  6. Finish your business plan

    Your business plan is crucial to our assessment of the viability of your application. We will need to see a completed version of it before you’re ready to move to the next stage of the application process.

  7. Interview

    We’ll arrange an interview with you and, if appropriate, we’ll invite you to volunteer for a week or so on a chosen farm.

  8. You’ve made it!

    If you make it to this stage we’ll offer you a plot at your chosen site. However, you will not be able to move on until temporary planning permission has been granted.


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