Cooperative Community Farming

The Problem

The recently published State of Nature report says that in the UK, “Agriculture has been identified as the most important driver of biodiversity change over the past 45 years, with most effects being negative.” The push to increase productivity and profit through intensive farming practices has had a catastrophic impact on wildlife and the environment in which it lives.

Site Condition

The site is located on the western side of the Cartmel peninsula just North of the well-known Holker grounds and south of Roudsea Wood and Mosses Nature Reserve. The flat coastal plain is divided into large, square fields of mainly improved grassland, surrounded by a linear matrix of drainage ditches. Field division is by sparse hedges that have been thinned out after years of being used as shelterbelts against the coastal winds. Large broadleaf and coniferous plantations are dotted throughout the agricultural land and along the rolling hillside.

The Project

This is a 20-year agroforestry scheme with permaculture principles. Permaculture represents a reversal of monoculture in that it promotes biodiversity and the implantation of a diverse range of crops. Agroforestry offers the opportunity for multifunctional land use and management solutions, which simultaneously benefit the environment and allow farms to adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change. Different biological systems are allowed to cooperate and flourish which leads to a rise in productivity, as trees and plants find ways to interact and support each other symbiotically, improving conditions for plants, livestock, and wildlife alike.

This scheme also encourages community farming to help promote seasonal food production. Community farms are locally owned and operated, which allow farms to keep money circulating in their own com­munities. It also offers many benefits to farmers who want to practice sustainable agriculture and to communities who want fresh, healthy, and locally produced food.