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[EXP] Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms, an example of biodynamic farm businesses owned by 600 local shareholders.(East Sussex, UK)

Rural topic(s): Access to land, Civic engagement, local governance and dialogue, Local food Chains

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.

See the detailed story in the document attached.


Source: CCF Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farms case study (attached)





Scale of intervention : Local

Keywords: collective farmland ownership, local food processing, biodynamic farming, direct selling, local supply chain, community land trust, consumer producers partnerships, community supported agriculture - CSA, farmer’s shop, short food chain, dairy products, farm partners, livestock farming

Places: United-Kingdom

Actors: social enterprise, community land trust (CLT), farmer, consumer

Methods: voluntary work, job creation