Lauriston Farm in North East Essex is already doing a great deal to improve the local environment and support the local community. But there are exciting plans in place to increase those social and environmental impacts with the business being newly constituted as a not-for-profit Charitable Community Benefit Society. It will start trading under this new structure, as a community owned farm business, on 6th April 2017. Find out more about the farm, this new Social Farming Initiative, and how you could become a shareholder.
Farm director Spencer Christy explains more about the………
New Era at Lauriston Farm
Lauriston Farm is a 210 acre biodynamic organic holding on the River Blackwater near Goldhanger and is a home to rare salt marsh birds and creates habitat for these as well as other birds and insects including honey bees. We farm 100% grass fed beef and lamb and produce vegetables and fruit all to Demeter/Biodynamic standards. Importantly, we have always embedded strong social considerations in all aspects of the farm work.
Over the last two years we have been developing a plan for the future of the farm and have been receiving help and advice from an organisation called Funding Enlightened Agriculture which runs a funding program called Just Growth.
Our first step has been to form a strong and outward looking structure for the business. We chose the model of a Charitable Community Benefit Society as it fits perfectly with our work and future plans. It is a wholly not-for-profit business and starts trading on April 6th this year.
We have written a five year business plan. It explains how we will build on thirteen years of conservation farming using biodynamic agriculture and rare breeds, education for all ages and life experiences for socially disadvantaged adults.
From this grows a new Social Farming Initiative which integrates adults with learning difficulties into all aspects of the farm business working alongside our staff and volunteers. As part of this our cattle herd expands, rare breed chickens and pigs are introduced, field scale vegetables are grown, educational work increases and a food quality kitchen is built.
We have chosen to fund this expansion through the selling of community shares in our Charitable Community Benefit Society to create in Goldhanger the first community owned farm business in the catchment of the River Blackwater.
Each share costs £1 and we are looking to sell 35,000 of which a minimum of 20,000 shares need to be sold by Saturday April 8th with the remaining 15,000 shares sold by May 24th.
Just Growth will triple the first 20,000 shares sold with a grant and a loan, both from ethical funders, to give a pot of £60,000.
Our website has daily updates on our progress and as of Tuesday March 22nd we have received pledges for 9,850 shares leaving a minimum of 10,150 pledges to be received by Saturday April 8th.
The return on these shares is social and environmental with various other shareholder benefits on offer. Members can vote at the AGM on a one member one vote basis, regardless of the number of shares owned. The membership creates a body or warmth and support around our work which is invaluable.All the information on becoming a shareholder can be found at www.lauristonfarm.co.uk/shareoffer or visit the Crowdfunder page Crowdfunder for Lauriston Farm