Yesterday Ben and I travelled to North Wales to visit Moelyci Farm. Filmed as part of an BBC Inside Out update programme (due to be aired in September) we went to see how a community owned farm was working in practice.
Della Fazey one of the founders of Moelyci (standing next to Ben in the picture below) welcomed us with open arms.
They had to fight to save the farms a few years to ago, when the resident farmer could no longer afford to live off the land. They needed £400,000 and decided to place the land into community ownership.
Like us, they are an Industrial and Provident Society, and their land is owned by the local community – its 400 shareholders.
Moelyci Farm is focussed on environmental education and of providing a community space. A large part of their land is used as allotment space and the rest leased for grazing or used for environmental benefit. It has a huge sense of community involvement and runs a scheme to help the unemployed gain new skills.
Fordhall’s focus is more on farming and providing a working resource for education on food, farming and nature.
Just imagine if every child and family had a share in their local farm – this is the ultimate reconnection for those who do not have the desire or the opportunity to work the land or to have their own vegetable garden.
In addition it solves one of the largest barriers to entry to new and young entrants to farming. With land prices so fixed on their potential hope value, it is virtually impossible for any person to enter the industry without a huge amount of financial backing.
When we began this project, as farmers, we did not think that anyone cared about farming, the environment or food. And even if they did, that they certainly did not care enough about it to put their hands in their pockets.
However, we could not have been proven more wrong. We now have over 2100 shareholders from across the country who believe in this project and who as a result have jumped at the chance to put their money where their mouth is. You have raised between yourselves £275,000 towards our £800,000 target!
Every day we are receiving phone calls from people so passionate about our plight. It seems to have given people the opportunity to act on something that they really believe in but had previously not known what they could do to make a difference, and for us this is inspiring.
We have 37 days left to raise the remaining £530,000 to SAVE Fordhall Farm and to have the opportunity to put this amazing resource into community ownership. Not only as a valuable resource to schools, farmers and the community, but as a shining example of how farming can survive with the help of people; and importantly for people to show how important they believe the future of farming in this country to be.
We must pass on our sincere thanks to all at Moelyci for their time, and also for showing us that these projects can be successful and can work on a long term basis.
For more information on Moelyci Farm go to www.moelyci.org
Or for more information on how YOU can Save Fordhall see www.fordhallfarm.com