Following up Cllr Howard Allen’s thoughts on the subject published earlier, feedback has come from Pete Riley, who was involved in assessing a bid for the Co-op’s fruit farm at Tillington, in Herefordshire.
He visited the farm in early June with 40 others interested in organising a community bid for the farm. The Ecologist reports that this proposal was defeated by:
- the vendor’s failure to present timely accounts and other commercial information;
- lack of time to research, write and present a credible bid by the set deadline;
- the vendor’s strong preference to sell its entire estate of 14 farms to a single buyer and the less than helpful attitude of the agents handling the sale.
Pete wrote, “Our intention was to establish a Community Land Trust (registered as Community Benefit Societies) to buy the farms though a public share issue. This is the model that has led to several successful co-operative farmland acquisitions, for example Fordhall Farm in Shropshire in 2006 and the Biodynamic Land Trust. Community Land Trusts can create tenancies for co-operatives or individual farm businesses to provide much needed access to farmland for new entrants or existing tenants wanting to move to larger farms”.
The writer is a Fordhall shareholder – but they had a far simpler brief!
Read more in the article by editor Anthony Murray in the Co-operative News: Co-operative Group’s farming and pharmacy business under threat