farm gate with view of farmland©INGiamges

A Devon family is launching a £1.5m public appeal to save their farm after the Church of England decided to put it up for sale.

Tenant farmer Andy Bragg is the third generation of his family to work the land at West Town Farm, three miles from Exeter.

Mr Bragg’s grandfather took on the farm in 1947. Owned by the Church of England, it has been organic since 1992 – and produced organic milk until 2006.

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Today, the farm produces beef and pork, as well as apples and small-scale vegetables. It also hosts 150 educational visits a year, welcoming 5,000 visitors through the farm gates.

But church commissioners have decided to sell the farm, prompting Mr Bragg to set up a community trust in a bid to buy the farm and save it for future generations.

Although he could stay as tenant under a new landlord, Mr Bragg believes he would only be able to protect the farm’s organic status and valuable activities in the short term.

The aim is to keep the farm whole and continue working the land organically with the local community rather than the Church as landlord.

If the money is raised, the farm would continue to provide an educational resource for the people of Exeter and surrounding communities, says a website set up to publicise the appeal.

“With the Church as landlord, the farm has offered unparalleled access, both educational and recreational to this beautiful piece of land,” it says.

“Without the Church its future is less certain. A new landlord could retract the diversification licence and stop or limit public access.”

The appeal will be launched on 1 December.