All About Stroud Community Agriculture
Stroud Community Agriculture Ltd (SCA) is a community-led enterprise, which is developing a local farming business to produce fresh organic/biodynamic produce for its members. Members pay an annual membership and a further payment in order to receive produce including vegetables, pork and beef, and diversifying into other produce. The farm is certified organic and is influenced by biodynamic methods.
This web site supports and promotes the SCA to a wider community as well as supporting the members of SCA with up to date information. For an in-depth story of Community Support Agriculture (CSA) in Stroud, download the “Story of CSA in Stroud” (PDF, 423KB).
The guiding principles of Stroud Community Agriculture:
The Community Co-operative is bound by a set of principles established by the members at an early public meeting.
The principles are:
- To support organic and biodynamic agriculture.
- To pioneer a new economic model based on mutual benefit and shared risk and ensure that the farmers have a decent livelihood.
- To be fully inclusive. Low income shall not exclude anyone.
- To encourage practical involvement on all levels.
- To be transparent in all our affairs. To make decisions on the basis of consensus wherever possible. To strive towards social justice.
- To offer opportunities for learning, therapy and re-connecting with the life of the earth.
- To network with others to promote community supported agriculture to other communities and farms and share our learning (both economic and farming).
- To encourage members, in co-operation with the farmers, to use the farm for their individual and social activities and celebrations.
- To develop a sense of community around the farm.
- To work co-operatively with other enterprises that share our principles.
Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) provides a link between people and farming. It does this by providing an opportunity for people to support and benefit from farm projects in various ways;
- by paying towards the costs of running farm projects,
- by receiving a share of the produce
- by volunteering time to help with farm work and other work linked to the running of SCA,
- by setting up and attending events linked to the farm,
- or just by being interested in SCA
SCA aims to provide as many people as possible in the Stroud area with opportunities to make these direct links with farming and food.
SCA aims to:
- Pay the people who work on the farm a fair wage
- Develop a rich variety of crops, livestock and other projects that meet the needs of the farm and the people who support the farm
- Provide opportunites for as many people as possible to make connections to the farm in whatever ways work for them.
- Manage the farm in a way that is sensitive to the environment, wildlife and ecological system that the farm is part of
- Encourage other, similar projects to set up
How is SCA organised and how do we operate?
Stroud Community Agriculture Ltd is incorporated as Community Co-operative. As a Community Co-operative every member has a vote, which puts everyone on an equal basis. Membership spreads the costs and risks involved in business.
At an annual general meeting members elect a core group of (currently 8) volunteers to act on the plans proposed and outlined at said meeting. Read the minutes of AGM’s.
Decisions are usually reached by consensus. The farm business is owned and controlled by the members, who employ the farmers. The farmers are members too, and sit on the core group, although they cannot take decisions about their own pay.
Another benefit of the Community Co-operative is that it is possible to raise capital by shares, should we wish to, by allowing investment with a return for investors as a profit-sharing organisation. Although this is not likely to happen, it does mean that it would be possible, for example, to raise money to buy land to set up a land trust.
Between November 2001 and the following March regular meetings took place. Gradually the principles and objectives of SCA were established and the decision was taken to start by growing vegetables in a one-acre walled garden at Brookthorpe. A gardener was found and the community demonstrated its confidence in the project by providing his income even before produce was available. A newsletter was produced and continues to be produced on a quarterly basis.
Due to changing circumstances the operation moved the following year from the walled garden in Brookthorpe to Hawkwood College near Stroud. A full 23 acres was now rented and a part-time farmer was taken on in addition to the gardener. This meant that a proper little farm could be set up. In addition to vegetables it now became possible to run a small beef suckler herd, have some pigs and offer a regular supply of meat to members. The pig initiative started as an independent community enterprise called ‘Hog Hands’. A group of people undertook to share responsibility for their care. They then received a share of the harvest. Later the pigs were incorporated as part of the whole farm. A sow is kept and she produces regular litters of piglets.
The increased land area meant that more members were needed to ensure the project remained viable and a new membership drive was launched. To support this, SCA received a one year grant from the National Lottery Seed Programme ‘Growing Home’. This paid for someone to actively promote membership to a wider circle, produce a leaflet and to help fund much needed capital equipment. This proved very successful and before the year’s end membership had risen to 100 and we had to start a waiting list that soon rose to 30 families.