The Biodynamic Land Trust was invited to speak at the 2017 Oxford Real Farming Conference about our Community Farm for Every Community project. Here is the transcript from the 20-minute speech we gave as the starting point for our one-hour ‘collabatory’ session.
The Biodynamic Land Trust has the feeling it may have come upon the ideas and raw ingredients to start a chain-reaction. We have been involved in the creation of a new class of ethical investment – the blended land-based investment. We have years of experience of fundraising and buying land. Together, with our partners, we are backed by significant institutions and hundreds of investors.
But can we get the chain-reaction started? There is still a lot to do, not least, to hear from you all! We need to know whether our thinking makes sense, whether we are an organisation that you want to connect with, support, be supported by! If we are going to attract millions and millions of pounds – and there are multi-billion-pound ethical investment funds, so that isn’t an unrealistic aim – into a network of land-based project then the “we” is going to have to grow in number!
By blending land with higher returning assets, and by blending shareholder equity from the public with ethical lending we think we can bridge that fundraising gap – we believe we can create a system that allows a project group to assemble and then, when it is ready and finds the right land, to make that purchase.
We can support a farming family transition their farm from being family-owned to trust-owned, expanding the on-farm activity, protecting the long-term future of the farm and its enterprises, without financially penalising the family which owned the land.
We can support operating projects to scale to the next level, for example, the Inkpot in Lincolnshire. The Inkpot, an 18-acre permaculture small holding and training centre, home of Hannah Thorogood, would like to buy the adjoining 90-acre farm, if only they could bridge the fundraising gap.
By galvanising our community, we can start rolling back the enclosures and establishing a new tradition of common-land, land that serves the community, land that is the well-spring of well-being. A community farm for every community…