A group has been set up to bid for the Co-op’s fruit farm at Tillington near Hereford. This covers over 500 acres and is estimated to be worth up to £10m. The Co-op Group will accept bids for individual farms although their preferred option is to sell the land and farm business as a job lot.
This follows the setting up of a petition to halt the sale of Cooperative Group farms (38degrees), which now has over 9,000 signatures.
• 5miles NW of Hereford ( HR4 8LQ)
• 512 acres
• Apples, cider apples, cherries
• National Collection of 1000 apple varieties
• Co-op ownership since 1909
• Part of the Farm to Fork education project
Pete Riley and Martin Large intend to set up a Community Land Trust to buy it but have to convince the Co-op that they are credible bidders by 15th June. To meet this deadline they need to hire expert assistance to write business plans, develop a fund raising strategy and register as a Community Benefit Society.
They think this could cost £9800 so have launched a crowd funding appeal. http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/Tillington-Farm–Community-Land-Trust- At the time of writing the links to pledge were not active.
One benefit of this Co-op community farm buy will be to reinvent and renew the values of the co-operative movement which have been so damaged by the recent problems of the Co-op Group and Bank. If successful, the land at Tillington will be under community control with land value captured for community benefit and that will prevent a significant national asset being stripped by private or overseas buyers.
In the longer term, the farm could move to a more agroecological approach for its management including greater use of biological pest controls, more diversity of cropping and soil enhancement. It could also build on the work already started to educate and inform people about farming and inspire them to get more involved in where and how their food is produced.