Communities Like Us – Stockwood Community Benefit Society
Like Mustard Seed Property, there are a number of other community-led organisations that bring people together to own land and property. From time to time each of us have a campaign to expand our membership and raise share capital. One of the seven co-operative principles is to be ‘co-operative amongst co-operatives’. So, we are wanting to introduce you to a different community-led organisation each time we do an update. Together we can build a community of people and organisations that share a vision for a stronger, more inclusive future!
Stockwood Community Benefit Society is a successful community-owned property and land trust that owns a rural business park and 150 acres of farmland halfway between Worcester and Stratford-upon-Avon. Stockwood was set up to protect and preserve Rush Farm in perpetuity by transforming the farm from private ownership and putting it into the hands of the community. As a result, Stockwood has made it possible for anyone to co-own a piece of beautiful farmland in Worcestershire as well as a successful rural business park.
Rush Farm is a biodynamic organic farm, meaning the farm is viewed as a complete system. Stockwood has developed the farm by thinking like the farm. They have made the farming process as sensitive, conscious, caring and deliberate as possible. The animals are kept to the highest animal welfare standards and treated with homeopathy as a preventative measure. In addition, Rush Farm is recognised by Natural England as an exemplar of biodiversity and is a wildlife haven, due to heightened consciousness of nature at the farm.
Stockwood has over 400 members who have invested c. £1.5million, and the business has paid a 5% return to community shareholders for 8 years in a row. Stockwood will shortly be launching a significant community share offer (and their first to be awarded the Standard Mark) to replace their senior bank debt with community equity, so that as much of the business as possible can be owned by the community.
Sebastian Parsons (Executive Chair) says “We could not have got Stockwood going with the help of a social bank. However, now we are up and running it is time to convert the debt to equity. Why have a bank involved when we could just have a bigger community? Releasing the bank from our funding structure will generate surplus cash for developing our project – from renewable energy to learning on the land. We needed the bank to get going, now we need the community to remove the bank so we can fulfil our mission.”
If you are interested in the fantastic work happening at Stockwood or would like to learn more about how to invest, visit their website here.
As ever this is not a recommendation to invest nor financial advice. Please read all documents carefully.