New site in Somerset

The Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC) is delighted to have purchased its fourth site in Sparkford, South Somerset, a 21-acre field, continuing the work of making land accessible to ecological farming. 

With news that Somerset County Council continues to sell off County Farms to raise millions for the authority, and with the uncertainties facing British Agriculture after Brexit, the work of the ELC putting small-scale, agro-ecological farming on the map is as pressing as ever.

With the continued successes of the three small farm enterprises on their first site in Devon, temporary planning permission awarded on their second site in East Sussex and working with Wales’ largest Community Supported Agriculture scheme to steward their third site on the Gower Peninsula, the Ecological Land Cooperative model of cluster farms fit for the future reflects an increasing desire for many to live and work on the land whilst producing ecologically grown food.

The 21-acre agricultural field that the ELC has purchased, in the village of Sparkford, was recently used for sheep grazing.

The ELC will apply for planning permission to create a cluster of three residential small farms accompanying land-based businesses. Each would have an agricultural tie committing the smallholders to operate farm businesses, bringing local food, employment and diversity - both ecologically and agriculturally - to the area. \

The Ecological Land Cooperative works to create affordable ecological smallholdings for new entrants to farming – those who would ordinarily be unable to afford a house in the countryside yet who wish to earn a living through farming.

With the purchase of the Sparkford site, the first five year’s permission would be temporary allowing land-based businesses to establish and grow. After the initial five years lapses the ELC would apply for permanent permission at which point the smallholders would be able to build permanent dwellings (within a set footprint and height and working to stringent ecological principles). ELC tenants are legally tied to a Management Plan with strict ecological guidelines and an annual monitoring process carried out by the organisation who work closely with the local authorities. 

Report from our Sparkford community meeting
On Tuesday 5th February 2019 we held a community meeting for Sparkford residents. We presented and discussed our plans to create a cluster of three residential small, ecological farms accompanying land-based businesses. Each would have an agricultural tie committing the smallholders to operate farm businesses, bringing local produce, employment and diversity to the area.

At the meeting we presented our vision and aims, our business model, our legal structure and presented the examples of our other sites and farm businesses. Opening the floor to questions a good discussion was had - a number of points and questions were raised; some of which were: visual impact and development of site; Agricultural Tie / Section 106; traffic and access.

To read our responses to the above points please visit our Sparkford page here

If you are a local resident and have a concern that hasn’t been raised, please contact sonia@ecologicalland.coop or on 01273 766 672.

If you would like to register your interest for applying to be a farmer with us then please email Oliver at members@ecologicalland.coop

If you would like to join our cooperative as a local investor member please find out more here.