Country Smallholding - - A smallholder's World - MORE: Tel: 01273 766 672 Twit­ter: @ecoland­coop Face­book: ecoland­coop

The Eco­log­i­cal Land Co­op­er­a­tive has launched a cam­paign to ask landown­ers for do­na­tions of small parcels of land to cre­ate clus­ters of af­ford­able small­hold­ings for new en­trants to eco­log­i­cal agri­cul­ture. An or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing new en­trants into farm­ing, the Eco­log­i­cal Land Co­op­er­a­tive (ELC) de­vel­ops af­ford­able, low im­pact, small­hold­ings pro­tected for eco­log­i­cal agri­cul­ture in per­pe­tu­ity. And they need land to do this. The group said: “There is a cri­sis for new en­trants to farm­ing where the cost and avail­abil­ity of land are one of the big­gest bar­ri­ers a new farmer faces when they are seek­ing to build a farm busi­ness.” It says this short­age of sup­ply of farms is re­flected in the age of cur­rent farm­ers: the av­er­age age of to­day’s farmer is 59, ac­cord­ing to DE­FRA fig­ures. The first ELC site, 22 acres at Green­ham Reach in Mid- Devon, was pur­chased in 2009, and now has three thriv­ing mixed small­hold­ings. The ELC has gone on to pur­chase two fur­ther sites rais­ing funds through com­mu­nity in­vest­ment, friendly loan providers and grants. It said: “The ELC has big am­bi­tions and is ready to take on more land to cre­ate more small­hold­ings. Yet the big­gest chal­lenge the co­op­er­a­tive faces is ac­cess­ing land. To help solve this the ELC is ask­ing ex­ist­ing landown­ers to con­sider do­nat­ing some of their land to be pro­tected for eco­log­i­cal agri­cul­ture in per­pe­tu­ity.” “This im­proves bio­di­ver­sity, pro­tects wildlife, does not pol­lute our wa­ter nor de­grade our soil, and pro­vides good, af­ford­able, healthy food to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties thus in­vig­o­rat­ing lo­cal economies.”

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