High land prices, rural housing costs and planning red tape have proved to be difficult barriers for young farmers trying to get a foothold in agriculture.
But prospective new entrants are being offered the chance to get on the farming ladder by investing in small starter farms.
The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) has launched a share offer to raise funds for the creation of two new clusters of small-scale, ecological farms.
Based on its first cluster of three small farms at Greenham Reach, a 9ha site in mid-Devon, the co-operative plans to create a series of new ecological smallholdings between now and 2020.
The ELC is currently awaiting planning permission for a second site in Arlington, east Sussex.
For the 2017 share offer, ELC has teamed up with online investment platform Ethex in a bid to raise between £120,000 and £340,000 to carry out this work.
It is hoped the collaboration will generate enough funds for the development of two new clusters of small farms, which will see ELC managing 12 smallholdings across four sites.
“New entrants to farming have no possibility of buying a farm in England: the cost of land and rural housing is too high,” said ELC director Zoe Wangler, announcing the share offer.
“We create new starter farms, protected for farming, for affordability and for sustainability.”
Ben Raskin, head of horticulture at the Soil Association, said: “It’s not easy getting into farming for the first time, or making it profitable while caring for the land in both a productive and ecologically sensitive way.
“Land is expensive, affordable rural housing is scarce and many landowners offer only short-term tenancies pushing for maximum returns from tenants. ELC is tackling these problems enabling farmers to access land and make good long-term decisions about how to farm for the future.”
How does the ELC work?
The ELC buys land and seeks planning permission for new residential smallholdings. It then sells these starter farms, below market rates, on a long and secure leasehold. It offers investors the opportunity to buy affordable residential smallholdings on agricultural land to those that otherwise couldn’t access land to create rural livelihoods.
How much can I invest?
The share offer runs from 3 April to 12 June, 2017. The target is between £120,000 to £340,000. Investors are invited to invest anything from £500 to £40,000. Investor members are offered 3% in interest on share capital annually.
Who can invest?
Anyone can join. For more information on the share offer, visit ecologicalland.coop or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ecological Land Co-operative from Ecological Land Co-operative on Vimeo.