(15 April 2020) – In the UK, where nearly half the land is owned by just 25,000 people (less than 1% of the population), land cooperatives contribute to rural regeneration and healthy eating, and fight climate change.
Land cooperatives aim to increase the sustainability of our food system by enabling people to grow their own food.
Their business model is very simple – they buy land and lease it affordably to smallholders. They thus contribute to rural regeneration and healthy eating, and fight climate change. They also enable young people to break into farming, which is currently very difficult.
As an example, the Ecological Land Cooperative, technically a registered community benefit society, started in 2009. It is based in Brighton on the south coast of England, and now owns land on five sites in southern England and Wales. In 2017 it raised investment of £440,000 and now aims to raise an additional £400,000. Its target is to create 18 new small farms on six new sites by the end of 2023.
It has just issued a new offer of withdrawable shares, to which anyone can subscribe. Investors receive interest of 3% a year. When investor members wish to sell, the co-op will normally repay within 6 months. The offer is open until 18 May 2020 and the minimum investment is £500 (€573).