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The fund currently has assets in excess of £10,000.

Philosophy

For many years the restaurant chain Pizza Express promised customers it would donate 10 pence to the Save Venice Fund for each Veniziana pizza sold. In this way it apparently raised millions of pounds for the fund. What has this to do with Biodynamic Farming?

Ideas for new forms of farm land ownership have been percolating away in this country for many years. The two biodynamic farms in Forest Row, Sussex are an example of current thinking: the farmland is owned by a charity (St. Anthony's Trust) and leased to the farm businesses which are wholly owned by a cooperative (The Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farm Ltd). The cooperative is an Industrial and Provident Society, a legal form that enables the community of farmers, gardeners and consumers to engage together in the owning and running of the farm business. The task of the charity is to protect the farmland so that it may always continue to be run biodynamically.

This type of ownership, which would probably now fall under the new charitable objective of conservation, enables the farmer to put his heart into the farm knowing that when it is time to retire, or should the cooperative fail, then the charity would ensure that the biodynamic impulse is preserved. After years of care, the last thing that the biodynamic farmer wants to see is the land taken over by someone who will work it like a machine.

It is not possible here to get involved in the question of how such a cooperative and such a charity would work together in practice. But it must be noted that this type of ownership is only possible if the land has been purchased without a mortgage. If then we imagine that in the future a stream of young caring farmers are on their way, seeking just such situations, then we must ask where the purchase money for the land is to come form?

If we now return to Pizza Express, then we have a model that I believe could provide the way forward. If we can accumulate large quantities of small amounts of money, then over time we can create the capital needed to buy land. Having talked about this idea for many years, I gained the consent of colleagues in the Cultural Freedom Trust, to set up a fund that would work in this way. We are calling it the Biodynamic Land Fund.

The fund hopes to raise money in three different ways. First it is seeking a large group of people who would donate a small amount of money per month. Secondly we are seeking sponsorship from businesses that could put the Pizza Express into practise. For intrinsic in this idea is that the fact that the small donation helps to sell the product. By advertising their intention to donate a percentage of their income to the Biodynamic Land Fund, such businesses would be saying to their customers that they care what happens to the land just as much as the farmers. The third way that the fund could raise money is through the more conventional route of one-off larger amounts, such as legacies.

Whether the farms purchased in this way are owned by one charity or a group of like-minded, independent charities, the picture being created may be compared to the National Trust. But instead of stately homes it would be farmland that is being cared for and preserved. And biodynamics would be the method by which this is achieved.

 

Robert Lord

Director of the Biodynamic Land Fund

 

 

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