This week saw Richard Lochhead launch a share issue for Scotland’s first community-owned farm. Whitmuir Farm, currently owned by Pete Ritchie and Heather Anderson has become a well-known award-winning organic farm and they are working with a community group that is seeking to raise funds to buy the farm.
The Community Benefit Society are aiming to raise £600,000 to buy the 130-acre organic farm, comprising 64 acres arable, 34 acres of pasture and 32 acres of woodland, shelterbelt and hedges. Prior to the launch they have had expressions of interest of £180,000.
Once they have purchased the land, the Society's purpose is to maintain and develop Whitmuir as a working, organic farm that becomes increasingly productive, beautiful, diverse and sustainable for the benefit of the community. As well as producing food, the farm will aim to engage, inform and educate the public about sustainable food and farming and become a focus for small-scale innovation and research.
Whitmuir will continue to be a working organic farm, rearing and growing around £120,000 worth of organic food each year. As well as rearing pigs, cows, hens, sheep and turkeys, the farm will grow salads, vegetables and fruit. Qualified staff will continue to be employed to undertake the day to day farming. As now, most of the food will be sold into the butchery, shop and restaurant run by Whitmuir Organics Ltd for both retail and wholesale.
Membership is open to all from the age of 5 upwards and shares cost £50.
Scottish Land & Estates wishes the group every success in this innovative venture.