#54: Land reform, stewardship, community ownership and land justice

At the time of writing, the Coronavirus has forced us all to adjust to a rapidly-changing marketplace, and a lot of uncertainty in UK farming. While we can’t be out reporting from the fields at the moment, we begin this episode by sharing some messages from farmers and growers coming together at this time, and we have plenty of interviews stashed away in the hopper, so we will continue to bring you stories from the frontline of regenerative farming!

This month, we continue our focus on inspiring stories from the Oxford Real Farming Conference, focusing on land reform, stewardship, community ownership, and land justice. Our first conversation is with Molly Scott Cato, a former Green MEP, who shares her thoughts on land reform in the UK after attending a session with other political parties at ORFC. Molly shares her concerns with our current model of land ownership, where land access is not equal to all, with huge swathes of countryside instead inherited down family lines.

Next, we hear from Ninian Stuart, co-founder of the Centre for Stewardship, who shares his family’s learnings from exploring different kinds of ownership on their estate. We talk about the resulting land stewardship scheme on Ninian’s land in Scotland, the diversity that it brings to the land, and why he feels ‘owning’ land is a funny concept.

We then chat to Sebastian Parsons of the Stockwood Community Benefit Society. Sebastian is another landowner who’s doing things differently! We learn about his experience in moving his family farm to community ownership, and how these dynamic structures can support both the farmer and the investors.

Next, we hear Leah Penniman and Ọlá Ayòrindé in conversation about land injustices and repairing colonial trauma through relationship with the land. Leah is the co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in New York, and Ọlá is the co-founder of Land In Our Names (LION), an organisation addressing land injustices in the UK, and seeking to reimagine a system where people of colour can live off the land in ways which care for the soil, the surrounding biodiversity and themselves.

Finally, we share exciting news of a chance for you to get actively involved in a shared land ownership model. The Ecological Land Cooperative are currently offering the opportunity to join them as an investor member right now! If you’re interested, follow this link for more information. 

This episode was written and edited by Suzie McCarthy and Hanna Soderlund, and presented by Abby Rose, Katie Revell Jo Barratt. Featured interviews were recorded by Darla Eno and Cathy St German at ORFC 2020. Community support for Farmerama is provided by Hanna Soderlund, Fran Bailey, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.