Fans of the long-running BBC radio soap The Archers are being offered the chance to own a share in the farm that inspired the series.
The owners of Rush Farm, near Redditch, Worcestershire, are inviting the public to invest in “sustainable British farming”. The 150-acre farm is currently run to the standards of the certification organisations Demeter biodynamic and the Soil Association charity.
The farm creates carbon-rich soil, considers wildlife, uses energy efficient farming methods, and respects the natural behaviour of farm animals.
The owners are aiming to raise £1m to secure its future as an organic and biodynamic farm and promote environmental and ethical rural employment on its business park.
Over £415,325 has been raised so far, with the offer ending on October 31.
Sebastian Parsons, one of the three siblings who owns the farm, says, “A traditional farm is not a line on a balance sheet. It is a rich and complex resource for our children’s children.
“When a community of shareholders buys a family farm to be held in public trust, this ensures it will be farmed sustainably for ever. We hope our model of community farm-ownership can inspire other farms to do the same.”
Parsons, who is also chief executive of the UK Biodynamic Association and co-owner and CEO of natural skin care brand Elysia, founded the Stockwood Community Benefit Society to bring Rush Farm and Stockwood Business Park into community ownership.
Speaking in July about why Stockwood CBS is a good investment, Parsons said, “Investment in Stockwood CBS empowers us to deliver our mission – to preserve the beautiful Rush Farm for the community, and to create meaningful rural employment through the business park.
“But we think Stockwood CBS is also a good investment. This is a relatively low-risk project, with good tenant retention over a long period, and a stable and established management company with excellent tenant relationships. At the same time it offers a very reasonable return.”
Leading environmental charities argue that sustainable agriculture is key to tackling climate challenges. According to Greenpeace, “Ecological farming can produce 30% more food per hectare. Ecological farming gives people access to food where it is needed most.”
Similarly, the Rainforest Alliance point to the role of agriculture in global deforestation, especially in tropical areas where this causes considerable environmental damage and loss of biodiversity.
In July, a survey found that almost 40% of farmers are using clean energy across the UK, compared to just 5% in 2010, although the majority still feel as though the full potential of renewables is not being met.