Opening Doors for Eco-Farmers
The Ecological Land Cooperative was formed to provide a viable future for small scale ecological farms.
The cooperative buys agricultural sites of 18 – 35 acres and sub-divides the land to provide affordable and secure smallholdings for ecological producers.
Sussex became one of the first counties in England to benefit from the initiative when the cooperative bought a field at Arlington.
‘We show that small-scale ecological farming CAN work in today’s economy,’ explains The Cooperative’s Mary Hogan. ‘Sustainably managed smallholdings provide low-impact livelihoods, regenerate land and produce good, healthy food for local communities, increasing sustainability and resilience, and improving ecology and biodiversity for future generations.’
The cooperative bought the Arlington site in 2016 and lost no time in restoring the land which had been intensively farmed for many years. Two years later Wealden District Council granted permission for three smallholdings, all sharing a large wooden barn, a solar array and water harvesting system.
The farm now has three viable tenants:
Sinead and Adam, who previously specialised in producing edible flowers and herbs on allotments in London. Since arriving in Sussex the couple have switched to growing vegetables in response to the demand for local food during Lockdown.
Chris and Emily previously ran a vegetable growing business and box scheme in Romsey but had no security on the land they worked. They are now supplying three times the number of customers they had expected.
The final farm is to be occupied by a couple who are presently running a market garden in Devon. Their plans for the plot include growing vegetables, herbs and hazelnut trees for oil in the longer term.