We spent a day volunteering at Land Matters. It was a place we had wanted to visit for some time as we knew there was a back story there of some people collectively buying land and getting planning permission. A community of perhaps 8 ish households lives on 42 acres of land. The subsequent position (as I remember) is that the group continues to have temporary planning permission (five more years) for temporary dwellings on conditions such as researching permaculture and offering education.
There is a range of accommodation here the common area is housed in a great bender and yurt combined. It serves as a kitchen, dining, social area and meeting area. The mix of family units, single person and couple households have set up various structures from benders, yurts, a roundhouse and wooden round chalet style home are all visible mostly around a small area of perhaps two acres. It was good to see the close proximity of dwellings which was very village like. This was largely determined by the change of use planning application which stipulated where on the 42 acres dwellings had to be.
We spent the day putting in a veg bed, a Hugel type, a popular permaculture method. We worked with another day volunteer who had recently learnt of permaculture and was deeply enthused and a long term volunteer. The day was facilitated by Sharon and Charlotte, members of the coop, who generously showed us round and shared information.
I learnt a little about using The Way of Council as a communication tool. As a coop member everyone commits to spending time on a regular basis “in council”. Something like a Saturday every six weeks and a full week every year. I’d be interested to learn more.
Thanks to Charlotte for the info on legal and financial and the recommendation of Somerset Cooperative Services. Recently the coop has changed its rules so that members join by a one off membership payment rather than buying shares. Due to there being a turnover, it is common for people to want their shares out when they move on thus causing some problems for the organisation. Another significant factor was that financial transactions didn’t take place over a plot. A new member joining didn’t buy a plot or infrastructure or building from the person that was leaving. Essentially the infrastructure you funded as you live there is one you leave behind.
Lovely land, views, good food and great contacts. We were glad to have had the chance to come here!