[EXP] Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms, an example of biodynamic farm businesses owned by 600 local shareholders.(East Sussex, UK)
Type: Success story
Date of writing: November 24, 2011
Author(s) of this page: Neil Ravenscroft, Rachel Hanney
Organization(s): Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms
Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch are two Biodynamic Community Farms located in East Sussex, UK, wholly owned by a cooperative (an Industrial and Provident Society) with approximately 600 shareholders, most of them local to the farms. The farms occupy approximately 300 hectares of land, the majority of which is owned by St Anthony’s Trust, a local land trust. The farmers employ about 20 staff, process and sell their products directly and have established strong community connections.
Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms (TPH) are two farm businesses owned by an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) with approximately 600 local shareholders.
The IPS is a form of co-operative society in which each member (shareholder) has one vote, regardless of the number of shares that they own. The IPS, which was established in 1995, is administered by an elected committee which sets out the strategic priorities for, and appoints the Directors of, the two farming companies.
The key strategic priority is that the businesses must farm biodynamically. The businesses farm approximately 300 hectares of land, the majority of which is owned by St Anthony’s Trust, a local land trust whose charitable aims include the training of biodynamic farmers.
The farms produce, process and sell directly dairy products (milk, yoghurt, cheese), bread and flour, meat, fruit and vegetables ; the shop also offers organic food from other local farmers.
The businesses employ approximately 20 staff, including farmers, growers, food processors and shop staff, and have a joint annual turnover of more than £1.5m. Each business is run by a separate management group comprising a mix of farmers and IPS shareholders.
Apart from the initial share capital contributed by the IPS, there is no community financial contribution to working capital or annual running costs, and shareholders (known locally as farm partners) receive no direct benefits (such as dividends or price reductions) for their value of their shares. Rather, they view their share purchases as a ‘virtual gift’ to the farms, with no shareholders having ever sought to sell or redeem their shares.
Source: CCF Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms case study (attached)
Scale of intervention : Local
Actors: social enterprise