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January 16, 2013

Dysfunctional food system

Most shocking statistic of 2013 has to be that nearly half the world’s food production ends up being wasted – at a time when 25,000 people die each day from starvation.  The causes of this appalling mismatch between global supply and demand will be complex and varied but surely not beyond our collective wit to resolve.  While not the solution to global hunger, there are probably some lessons to be learned from the country’s first community owned farm.


To view a copy of the Guide to setting up and running community owned farms click here

To learn more about Fordhall Farm click here

This guide was written by Charlotte Hollins, Manager of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Charlotte, along with her brother Ben, led the fight to save Fordhall Organic Farm. The guide was commissioned by the Plunkett Foundation through the Making Local Food Work programme.

Charlotte Hollins grew up at Fordhall Farm in North Shropshire. After leaving university with a first class honours degree in Environmental Management and Mathematics in 2003 she led the high profile campaign that saved Fordhall Farm from development in 2006: raising an amazing £800,000 in less than six months. Fordhall’s plight touched people across the world, and 8,000 individuals came forward to purchase a £50 non-profit making share and become a member of England’s first ever community-owned farm.

The vision of Fordhall is to show that small-scale farming connected to the community can offer a viable way of life for generations to come. Charlotte works under the strategic direction of 14 voluntary board members elected from the membership annually. She manages their organic restaurant, function room, farm trails and picnic area. She employs 20 staff and works with hundreds of volunteers, all of whom make Fordhall what it is today. The Fordhall Community Land Initiative has won a number of awards over recent years including the ‘Schumacher Award’ for their contribution towards sustainable development; ‘Planet Award’ from Social Enterprise West Midlands; Morgan Foundation ‘Against All Odds’ award; ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award from The Field, and they are a ‘Flagship Social Enterprise’ for the West Midlands.

This guide follows the story of Fordhall Organic Farm from 2004 to 2012, providing an insight into what is needed to create a community-owned farm and to keep it going. The aim is to highlight that whatever your skills and experience are, you too can use community ownership to set up or run a farm, or use your farm to create a new relationship with your community. In addition to the real life story of Fordhall Organic Farm, this guide will provide you with some simple tools and handy tips to help along the way. Good luck!