This farm has 8,000 owners, one farmer and opportunities for all.
There can be few greater examples of a community rallying behind a cause than Fordhall Farm, in Shropshire.
It was being run by tenant farmers – the Hollins family - when, in the early 1990s, developers tried to buy the farm. The family fought eviction and brother and sister, Charlotte and Ben, led a community buyout to keep the land for organic farming.
We spoke to Charlotte about her remarkable story when she visited the Oxford Real Farming Conference:
The 140-acre Fordhall Farm is now owned by 8,000 community members across the world and is being run by a team of twenty people and more than 100 volunteers.
It has been run organically since just after the Second World War and that tradition continues with rotational grazing of all pasture-fed livestock. They rear organic cows, sheep and free-range Gloucester Old Spot pigs - working sustainably with the natural environment, building the fertility within the soils and working as much as they can within a closed system where nutrients are returned to the land.
There is an organic food café on the farm as well as a meeting room and activities for visitors. There are opportunities for adults with learning disabilities, a youth project working with young people at the point of exclusion from school, educational visits, lots of volunteer opportunities, especially working with the long term unemployed and mental health. There are family activities, free access through their farm trails and picnic areas, glamping in yurts, and in 2018 they will be building a straw-bale bunkhouse as well.
Charlotte said: “My brother is the tenant farmer and just like all others, he has to maintain the organic status of the land and pay the rent. The only difference is, he's not just farming the land on his own, there happens to be a huge community project around him using that same piece of land to benefit the local community.”
You can find out more at: www.fordhallfarm.com.