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The Land is Ours Gathering 7-9th October 2011

Monckton Wylde. I was invited to the annual gathering of The Land Is Ours to give a packed workshop on the why, what and how of setting up community land trusts, community asset bodies and of course, I used the Biodynamic Land Trust as an example.

One practical outcome was someone from a village with the prospect of being able to buy 11 acres being encouraged to attend the CLT Practitioners seminar: Beyond Housing in Stroud on Tuesday 29th to 30th November 20111 (see www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk)

Another outcome was Simon Fairlie’s question of how to self build, low impact sustainable homes costing up to £50,000 construction costs, using a land trust. One good example of this was St Miniver's Land Trust in Cornwall, an inspiring 12 home self build development enabled by Cornwall Rural Housing Association. A group formed round this question to further work. Unfortunately the land cost, under existing planning, could be a lot more than the construction cost. But given that 16,000 self-build homes were built in 2008, or 6% of the total houses built that year, self-build has huge potential.

Just to summarise other, but by no means all, interesting projects and campaigns there:

  1. Reclaim the Fields gave a workshop, and described their Grow Heathrow, UK Gathering from 13th-18th March 2011 (www.transitionheathrow.com, info@transitionheathrow.com
  2. The Land Magazine is published by TLIO, and is produced at Monckton Wyle (01297 561359, www.thelandmagazine.org.uk, editorial@thelandmagazine.org.uk. This is an excellent journal written by and for people who believe that the roots of justice, freedom, social security and democracy lie not so much in access to money, or to the ballot box, as in access to land and its resources. The basic objective of TLIO is to campaign peacefully for access to land, is resources and the decision making processes affecting them, for everyone, regardless of race, creed, age or gender. Well worth it.
  3. Tracy Worcester showed her stunning film on agribusiness, Pig Business, and introduced the campaign against a huge new pig factory in Derbyshire – see www.pigbusiness.co.uk; twitter.com/pigbusiness
  4. We visited Five Penny Farm and were shown around by Jyoti Fernandez (www.peasantevolution.co.uk) She told the story of how they got a £100,000 loan from Triodos bank to buy 42 acres, and then built two low impact homes — eventually getting retrospective planning permission. They had to show that the farm business would support three farm worker incomes getting at least £8000 p.a. each to get permanent planning permission. They raised beef cattle, milk, had sheep, ducks, geese, pigs and chicks-and had a market garden. They added value by processing and selling food, e.g. making cheese, apple juice and a charcuterie, plus food processing facilities, which were run by a co-op. Jyoti, with her Peasant Evolution co-op members run a Real Food Bus, catering for events, parties and festivals, as well as taking the food they grew round the district for van sales as well as farmers markets.
  5. Linda Hull of www.somersetcommunityfood.org.uk introduced her work, and the digital mapping tools she has developed for plotting demand for access to land. You can build your own community food map with these tools e.g. seed swaps, allotments, garden clubs, sharing skills, markets, training, existing producers. See www.foodmapper.org.uk. Food mapper can also help strategic community planning (Linda.hull@somerse5tcommunityfood.org.uk)
  6. Russell Carrington, a Hereford young farmer and engineer introduced his new film in the making called YoungFarmers. (www.youngfarmersdocumentary.wordpress.com.) It describes the issues affecting young farmers in Herefordshire.

The TLIO very successfully created a platform for networking, meeting, dialogue, critical evaluation, organising, learning and exchange, at Monckton Wylde Court.

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