Exploring Community Access to Farms and Land
Social Farms & Gardens, the Landworkers’ Alliance, and Shared Assets have been working together to investigate and provide resources on community access to land, in collaboration with various organisations across Wales. We are now sharing the lessons we have collectively learned from this process, highlighting the primary barriers faced by those working on community access to land, as well as the key changes necessary to expand it.
On this page you will find a wealth of resources: including an overview of current policies, recommendations for councils and land seekers, and stories from each organisational case study that has informed and inspired our work.
The Resilient Green Spaces Project
Resilient Green Spaces was a £1.27m partnership project led by Social Farms & Gardens to pilot alternative re-localised food systems using communities and their green spaces as the driving force for change across Wales from June 2023.
This project received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which was funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
1. What we’ve learnt: Context and Research
We asked public landholders and people seeking land in Wales about the land they manage, or would like to, in order to understand the appetite for, current scale of, and barriers to community-based approaches to farming in Wales. In this document, we present the key findings from survey responses and associated conversations, and highlight opportunities for public bodies and landseekers going forward.
We undertook a policy review to understand the context that the Resilient Green Spaces project was working in, both in Wales and in relation to the wider UK. The Policy Overview shows gaps and opportunities in policy relevant to publicly owned land, community rights and access to land, and other related areas.
As an alternative model for greater community access to land in Wales, we explored the potential for the development of land trusts, identifying current challenges in policy and inherent barriers in establishing a new land trust. We established that there is a strong existing ecosystem of organisations who are already collaborating both in Wales and across the UK to develop the capacity of land trusts. Based on this, we made a series of recommendations for policy and local authorities to understand how land could be used in this way to increase opportunities for access to land for new entrants and local communities.
2. What We’ve Learnt: Resources and Support
From 2022, we coordinated a ‘learning partnership’ for local authorities to share challenges and good practices from their local areas. This blog shares the method we used and lessons we learned from a partnership of this style, hoping to provide a framework to support communities of practice on similar issues in the future.
Our Findings and Recommendations for councils highlights the main barriers faced by those working on community access to public land, and the key policy changes needed to move things forward in the public interest, centring social and environmental values.
Our What You Can Do Now guides were designed for landowners and landseekers to easily find existing good practice and useful advice from others who are trying to work creatively within the current context to support access to land. We produced these guides based on extensive discussions and feedback from both our survey research and our learning partnership, and have provided signposts for a number of further resources to help landowners and seekers to take the next step.
We delivered a series of of online events which you can catch up on here:
3. Case Studies from Organisations across Wales
We investigated the topic of community access to land alongside a number of projects across Wales, whose practices we came across through various events and relationships built through the project. We hope these case studies will be a source of inspiration for other organisations and authorities hoping to be creative about increasing community access to land.
Blaenau Gwent Borough Council in south-east Wales has been considering how to use its Community Asset Transfer (CAT) policy to support food growing and land-based environmental projects over the last few years. Read more: Blaenau Gwent Joining up Community Asset Transfers, Land and Food Growing
Swansea Bay University Health Board was the first of its kind within the UK to partner with a local grower to begin setting up a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm on its land. Read more: Swansea Hospital and Community Supported Agriculture
Carmarthenshire Food Network and Bwyd Sir Gâr Food have worked to reconnect more people in Carmarthenshire with the land and environment around them, localising public procurement and planning to revitalise a council farm in Carmarthenshire. Read more: Localising public procurement in Carmarthenshire
Maesgwyn Isaf Farm was donated to the Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC) by a couple who owned the land, and since its donation, has now been brought into community ownership. Through ELC stewardship it is hoped the farm will provide a home and livelihood for many new entrants to farming as well as a resource for the local community long into the future. Read more: Ecological Land Coop caring for land in perpetuity
Welcome to Our Woods is a community partnership in the South Wales Valleys, who took on a 25-year lease on land owned by Rhondda Cynon Taff Borough Council via a Community Asset Transfer, empowering the local community to make use of land that was otherwise unused. The council have retained an interest in the land and oversight of its use to retain values of sustainability and stewardship, by opting for a 25 year lease rather than selling the land. Read more: Community Asset transfer to Welcome to Our Woods
Clynfyw Care Farm in Pembrokeshire is an organisation working to acquire land through a community share offer. The farm has been farmed by the same family since the 1750s, and following much discussion about the long-term future of the farm and security for its enterprises leasing land from it, in 2021 a Community Benefit Society (CBS) was established to purchase the farm through the issue of community shares. Read more: Clynfyw - Acquiring Land through Community Shares
For more information or support for the topic of Exploring Community Access, or Resilient Green Spaces project more broadly, please get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org