Stockwood CBS: more than just a financial investment



It’s less than two months into the share offer on Stockwood Community Benefit Society (Stockwood CBS) and a milestone has already been reached. The organisers are over half way to securing £1m of investment into their biodynamic farm and business park. Why are so many people investing? Having recently visited, Sean Buchan suspects people are investing in an experience.

Stockwood CBS community share is an opportunity to invest in a mixed biodynamic-organic farm – the one that inspired The Archers, no less – as well as the land that the business park lies on.

This makes it a classic triple bottom line investment. On the financial side, upon investing as little as £100 there is an estimated 5% return per annum in perpetuity. This makes it more attractive than current ISAs, with an accompanying low risk.

On the social side, the offer is to become part of a family. Investors will own the land with a community of fellow shareholders, can visit whenever they like, take part in all sorts of events and enjoy a one person-one vote system come AGM time.

Finally, the environmental component is encompassed by the concept of biodynamic farming, a “sort of organic plus” in the words of Stockwood founder Sebastian Parsons.

Plenty have invested so far, mainly through the Ethex engine. And with the likes of Kate Humble and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall giving their support, it’s not difficult to see why the investment is so attractive on paper. But it was actually visiting the farm that really sold this opportunity to me.

Visiting Stockwood CBS

Founder of Stockwood CBS, Sebastian Parsons, is one of those rare breeds of people that understands his projects to a frightening but fascinating depth; concentrate hard and one is rewarded.

Speaking to him sheds light on the subject on anthroposophy, a huge motivation in his life and behind Stockwood CBS. The term was initially coined by Rudolf Steiner and possibly best known for its connections with Waldorf schooling. But, talking to Stockwood’s energetic founder reveals a missing link: the notion that everything here is connected.

The benefits of investing in Stockwood are not just A, B or C as separate entities, but all of those intertwined; an overall experience that makes our daily lives more rewarding. Hence the name, Community Benefit Society.

Being connected to your investment

Taking a walk around the grounds confirms this. Even the business park has a phenomenal energy, with workers going about their business promptly yet happily. Sebastian explains the benefits of well-defined co-operative working models being created under another of his projects, the Elysia Commons. It is deep theory, but taking a look at the results is convincing enough.

Out on the farm the livestock actively come to greet visitors like old friends. After just a small time of biodynamic farming, it is possible to see and feel the benefits of the soil already. The woodland situated on the land has an energy of its own too; stepping into the quiet, brown seclusion has something Thoreau-esque about it.

Spend long enough at Rush Farm and its business park and ‘understanding’ comes as an inevitability. Everything about this investment is connected and makes sense. Beyond that, there is clearly an experience here too good to miss.

All investors of course get a good return for their money, but more than that, they own part of this land forever and become part of that experience. It is an investment in the health of the farm, the sustainability of produce for future generations and the sustainability of one’s own future. And, it’s a declaration that this is an experience one wants to be a part of.

Why not get involved, go see for yourself and buy a share?

Sean Buchan is a freelance writer specialising in ethics of philosophy, economics and investment and working with Greenhouse PR. He is also the founder of www.TrueEfficiency.net.

Further reading:

Farm that inspired The Archers looks to raise £1m from local community

Why I invested in Stockwood CBS

Stockwood CBS: putting a local farm in the hands of the people

Sustainable agriculture can help tackle climate challenges

Sustainability at the heart of food and agriculture



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