What is a "community farm"?
“A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living” Rudolf Steiner
Tablehurst is a community-owned social enterprise. The ownership arrangements may look rather complicated on first acquaintance, but they do actually make sense.
Two farms working in partnership
Tablehurst Farm, and its sister farm, Plaw Hatch have an association which goes back for decades. Between 1995 and 2003, this was gradually formalised, arriving at the ownership structure which persists to this day. Both farm enterprises are now owned by a not-for-profit community co-operative with about 600 shareholders. The core land and buildings are separatedly owned by a local charity, whose objective is to hold them in trust for the very long term. The farm enterprises lease the land from St Anthony’s Trust on long term agricultural leases.
The Co-op’s shareholders, known as “farm partners” are ultimately the only owners of the two farm businesses. You too can become a farm partner – please ask at either farm or take a look here.
Community Supported Agriculture
Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch is part of a global Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement. We have an ‘ownership’ model where the farm business capital is owned by local people. In other cases, such as Fordhall Farm in Shropshire, the community owns the land and rents it to the farmer. In other cases, such as Stroud Community Agriculture, there is a membership scheme in which the community members commit to paying a share of the annual running costs, often receiving a weekly veg box in return.
At the core of all CSAs – and there are thousands of them worldwide – is the close and mutual connection between farm, farmers and community. Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch are part of this; they are local community farms as well as global pioneers of a new way of farming and producing food. The Soil Association has more information about CSAs. You can also read case studies of CSAs in other European countries here.
Click here for a case study prepared by Professor Neil Ravenscroft & Rachel Hanney – both key members of the Tablehurst Farm team.
More than 1,000 people came to our last open day.