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'Community farm' plans outlined by cooperative

Image from an Ecological Land Cooperative site in Devon

There's a public meeting tonight about plans to create three new community farms in south Somerset.

The Ecological Land Cooperative are holding it at the Sparkford Inn from 5pm-7pm .

A similar community farm site near Wellington is now selling produce to pubs and also offering local veg boxes.

A spokesperson for the Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC) said: "With news that Somerset County Council continues to sell off county farms to raise millions for the authority, and with the uncertainties facing British Agriculture after Brexit, the work of the ELC putting small-scale, agro-ecological farming on the map is as pressing as ever.

"The 21-acre agricultural field that the ELC has purchased, in the village of Sparkford, was recently used for sheep grazing.

"The ELC will apply for planning permission to create a cluster of three residential small farms accompanying land-based businesses. 

"Each would have an agricultural tie committing the smallholders to operate farm businesses, bringing local food, employment and diversity - both ecologically and agriculturally - to the area.

"The Ecological Land Cooperative works to create affordable ecological smallholdings for new entrants to farming - those who would ordinarily be unable to afford a house in the countryside yet who wish to earn a living through farming.

"With the purchase of the Sparkford site, the first five year’s permission would be temporary allowing land-based businesses to establish and grow. 

"After the initial five years lapses the ELC would apply for permanent permission at which point the smallholders would be able to build permanent dwellings (within a set footprint and height and working to stringent ecological principles). 

Click play to hear Alex Lawrie from the Ecological Land Cooperative speaking to reporter Andrew Kay

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