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“Archers farm” launches £700,000 community share offer to preserve biodynamic land for future generations

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Unique community-owned farm and ethical business park offers opportunity to earn 5% return. A £700,000 community share offer launched today offers people the chance to buy a stake in the farm which inspired BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, preserve its biodynamic farmland for future generations and earn 5% interest.

Rush Farm, near Redditch, Worcestershire, a showcase biodynamic farm, is raising funds to add the remaining 35 acres of the farm’s land in private ownership to its 150 acres, and to install solar panels and ground source heat pumps at its business park.

Rush Farm is run to the highest certified Demeter biodynamic and Soil Association organic standards. Stockwood Business Park is home to companies employing over 200 people, generating £200,000 a year in rents, and is run on sustainable and ethical principles.

The combination makes it the UK’s only community-owned farm paying shareholders a financial return. The renewables will generate extra income, as well as cut the business tenants’ utility bills, and make their units more comfortable.

Sebastian Parsons, who used to own Rush Farm with his sisters and is now Chief Executive of Stockwood Community Benefit Society (CBS), said: “We transferred the farm we love into community ownership to preserve it as a showcase of biodynamic farming forever. Our investors are joint owners and we welcome the chance to show them the impact their money is making when we open our doors for lambing days, summer fetes and other events.”

Stockwood CBS is offering shares paying 5% annual interest, financed by rents from the business park. The minimum investment is £100 and shares are available through the positive investment platform Ethex until November 30th.

Current and new investors who buy at least £5000 of shares will have the opportunity to make a further investment of £5000 or more in loan stock qualifying for Social Investment Tax Relief. This will pay 3% interest and offer an upfront 30% income tax relief, a combined 9.9% return (IRR) over six years.

Stockwood CBS, a registered charity, acquired the farm and its business park in June 2014 after raising more than £700,000 in shares and loans from 146 investors. Investors received their first 5% payments in April 2015 and the farm has outperformed its financial targets.

Its sustainable and ethical model enjoys strong support from investors, who hold equal voting rights. One in three decided to reinvest their dividends, and 3% donated them back to the charity. Many are local: 12% live within 10 miles, and a further 24% live in the region.

Lesley White, 41, a Director of LSD Accountants, a business park tenant who helps out at lambing time, said she jumped at the chance to invest. “I became an investor because I love Rush Farm, and for me it is all to do with the land and the sheep. I now feel that I am part of the farm and that I own a small piece of it,” she said.

Peter Pettifor, 50, a residential property landlord, said: “I have often felt I wanted to have a farm but could not afford one, so being a member and a co-owner of Stockwood Community Benefit Society gives me a sense of ownership and belonging. I feel that it is important to invest in land and protect the land, and the 5% is attractive as a return.”

Lisa Ashford, CEO of Ethex, said: “Stockwood’s first share offer was met with great enthusiasm from our investors because it combined strong social benefits with a fair financial return. I’m confident that this offer combining renewable energy generation and sustainable land use will prove to be equally attractive.”

Rush Farm is well-known in farming circles. Godfrey Basely, creator of The Archers, was a friend of the owners and early episodes were written and recorded there in the 1950s. Olympic showjumper Pat Smythe rode across its fields.

Since Stockwood launched its first community share offer more than 3,400 people have visited the farm on public open days, to see its Lleyn sheep and native Hereford cattle, walk in its 22 acres of ancient woodland, and learn about biodynamic and organic farming which has been practiced on the site since 2005.

The farm produces 30 acres of cereals, pasture for livestock and organic vegetables on heavy clay soils which have been revitalised with herb-based preparations, special manures and compost to stimulate microbiological soil life. Its animals are kept to the highest welfare standards, and treated with homeopathy. Wildlife flourishes and a local beekeeper and hedgehog rescue centre operate on the farm.

The 27-units in the old stable block are home to 21 businesses including a company which “up-cycles” old cars, a hand-made chocolate company and liv.co.uk, a co-worker owned company founded by Mr Parsons that is an online ethical department store and natural skincare business. Together the businesses provide work for over 100 local people and employ another 100 around the country, generating £12 million a year in revenue.

Shares are available via ethex.org.uk. Ethex has joined with Resonance for this offer. Resonance helps social enterprises structure and raise investment from values-led investors and is acting as Stockwood’s corporate finance advisors and deal arrangers. www.resonance.ltd.uk. The minimum investment in £1 Stockwood CBS shares is £100 and the maximum is £100,000. Shares can be withdrawn in accordance with the Society’s rules but not sold or exchanged and their value will not increase. The Society expects to pay 5% interest on shares but this is not guaranteed. Many regard their investment as primarily social and secondarily financial.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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