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Ecological Land Cooperative

Social performance

The Ecological Land Cooperative develops affordable, low impact, small farms for ecological agriculture.  This work impacts on ecology, renews the land, creates livelihoods for farmers and brings communities together.


Key Social Performance Indicators (KSPIs)

KSPIs are a measure of how the business is performing on delivering its main social or environmental purpose. Read more


KSPI 1 - Land based livelihoods

Sustainably managed small farms provide low-impact livelihoods, regenerate marginal land and produce good food for local communities, increasing resilience and improving the soil, ecology and biodiversity for future generations

ELC is supporting 9 new entrants to farming to make a success of their farm businesses.

KSPI 2 - Ecological impact

Over the last five years ELC's monitoring reports for Greenham Reach have shown improvements in biodiversity, soil management, grey water management, composting and the introduction of organic matter into the soil.

In 2014 and again in 2017 ELC carried out an Ecological Footprint Analysis at Greenham Reach to assess each households’ footprint. The 2017 report showed that all three households had reduced their Ecological Footprints since moving to Greenham Reach. On average, taking the three households together, their per capita Ecological Footprint is 2.33 global hectares (gha) which is less than half of the average UK per capita Ecological Footprint.

The ‘One Planet’ Ecological Footprint suggests a sustainable lifestyle is around 1.7 gha. The households at Greenham Reach are much closer to achieving this goal than the average UK citizen and there are plausible future changes which could reduce the Greenham Reach households’ Ecological Footprints even further towards the goal of a One Planet Footprint.

Download the Greenham Reach 2018 monitoring report

KSPI 3 - Renewing the land

The Ecological Land Cooperative already has 98 acres of once marginal farmland under ecological management, on five sites with six established small farms and nine in development.

Milestones - a timeline of the ELC’s land purchase, planning permissions, ecological achievements and small farm development.

  • 2011 - purchased their first 22 acres of land in Devon.
  • 2013 - achieved five year temporary planning permission for rural workers dwellings at appeal.
  • 2013 - sold two leases for ecological small farms in Devon.
  • 2014 - sold the third lease in Devon and three thriving small farms brought the land to life.
  • 2016 - purchased their second site of 18 acres in East Sussex.
  • 2017 - monitoring on the Devon site showed an improvement in soil quality and wildlife habitat.
  • 2017 - purchased their third site of 17.8 acres in Gower and leased land to a local food growing project.
  • 2018 - achieved five year temporary planning permission for their site in East Sussex with an officer delegated decision.
  • 2018 - planted 1000 trees for hedgerow at their East Sussex site.
  • 2018 - saw biodiversity improvements at the East Sussex site including silver studded blue butterflies.
  • 2018 - purchased their fourth site of 20 acres in South Somerset.
  • 2019 - after five years on site ELC achieved permanent planning permission for their small farms in Devon with an officer delegated decision.
  • 2019 - sold two leases at the East Sussex site and two new small farms were created.
  • 2020 - purchased ELC's fifth site of 20.4 acres for smallholding development in Cornwall.

KSPI 4 - Community involvement

ELC serves several communities; members, the broader networks of environmental and agricultural activists, stewards (smallholders), the physical communities in which smallholding sites are located and the wider public benefitting from access to volunteering opportunities on the land; the general benefits of better ecological balance, biodiversity and access to locally grown food; and the increase in resilience brought about by the success of a new model for farming.

ELC stewards are encouraged to manage the shared site infrastructure and activity together, creating a community of support for each other. ELC provides regular facilitation at their meetings and assists with business planning to improve their chances of success.

In the communities where small farm sites are located or where ELC intend to develop, they work intensively with local people to ensure that a proposed development reflects community needs, addressing fears and obstacles so that those communities become their advocates.

In Devon this approach led to stewards  integrating into the local community, improving their business opportunities and providing a resource for the community to gain access to the land for volunteer work days, school visits and public open days.

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