Ecological Land Co-operative

Fund: Big Potential Breakthrough
Amount:  £48,820 (grant)
When: 2014 - 2015
Region:  South East
How the money was used:
  • Creating a robust business plan.
  • Positioning to launch a community share offer.
  • Enabling the purchase of land plots for sustainable farming.

The Ecological Land Co-operative applied to Big Potential to help them create more affordable low-impact smallholdings in rural areas. They used their grant to help successfully launch a community shares offer.

Social Impact

The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) is a social enterprise providing affordable access to land for sustainable rural livelihoods via the creation of low-impact smallholdings. They believe that ecological land-based livelihoods can help solve pressing environmental and social problems and want to marry ecological ethics with sound business practice to help more people live and work on the land.

The type of small-scale ecological production they believe in delivers a number of benefits including protecting the environment, building vibrant rural communities, providing employment and training and supporting healthy diets through affordable, local produce.

With demand for their type of residential smallholding growing, and having successfully established their pilot site, the ELC applied to Big Potential to help them better understand how they could package their model to attract investment into the next site.

How we helped

They received a Big Potential grant of £48,820 to work with two organisations, Eastside Primetimers and Plunkett Foundation, to build the capacity of the organisation to respond to investment opportunities.

Eastside Primetimers helped with business modelling, financial planning, board development, support on business plan development and project management; while Plunkett Foundation provided advice on the community share offer, on their co-operative rules, communications strategy and market research.

What was the outcome?

“The Big Potential-funded community share venture has proved a great way to support the development of our smallholdings; with a minimum investment of just £500, the share offer provided a practical and accessible way for a wide range of people to get involved with our work, and to support the development of small-scale ecological agriculture in England”

Cate Chapman, Managing Director, Ecological Land Co-operative

This work culminated in a successful community share offer. Community shares are a unique form of investment that can only be issued by co-operative societies, community benefit societies and charitable community benefit to raise investment from the local community. Since 2009, almost a 100,000 people have invested over £100m to support 350 community businesses throughout the UK.

Thanks to the Big Potential grant and the work carried out with the approved providers the co-operative secured investment of £189,350 in community share capital and £139,000 in a low-interest, long term loan from the A-Team Foundation, a charitable foundation. Raising this finance has funded the development of the ELC’s second cluster of smallholdings.


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