Local Land Economies

We were funded by Friends Provident Foundation to explore the ways in which community food growing contributes to local economic resilience.

Over the course of an 18 month action learning project we worked with three leading community food enterprises, Ecological Land Cooperative, Organiclea and Kindling Trust, to understand how food growing supports local economic development and the challenges they face creating sustainable businesses and livelihoods.

Earth stewards at OrganicLea, where i began my land journey.

Through research, site visits, workshops, and interviews with local authorities and other landowners, we have produced a series of guides for community enterprises and for local authorities who work with them.


Guides for community food enterprises

These accessible, easy-to-read guides are packed full of information and include exercises you can undertake with your group to help you strengthen and evidence your contribution to the development of strong and resilient organisations, livelihoods, networks and local economies.

Local economic resilience. This guide sets out how community food enterprises contribute to local economic resilience and suggests ways in which you might provide evidence of your impact. This can help strengthen the case you can make to local authorities, funders and others when looking for support or access to land.

Access to land: working with local authorities. This guide provides advice and guidance to help you work with local authorities to secure access to land to establish and develop your businesses

Better food systems. This guide helps you identify what elements you need to be place to create a resilient local food system. What roles do you play, who do you need to work with, and what’s missing in your area?

Understanding the planning system. This guide sets out all you need to know about applying for planning permission for structures and dwellings for small scale agriculture and community enterprises.


Guides for local authorities

Community food enterprises do more than just grow food. They also offer employment, training, education and an array of opportunities for community participation. What’s more, they care for the environment and help build cultures of fair, cooperative trade whilst creating new economic opportunities, contributing to more vibrant local markets and high streets, and shortening supply chains in the local food system.

In order to deliver these benefits they often need a supportive local authority to provide access to land and growing spaces, make connections to §others within the public and private sectors and wider civil society, who can help them thrive, and enable them to develop their growing sites sustainably.

Local economic resilience: the role of community food enterprises. This guide uses case studies, and draws on interviews with local authority officers and elected members, to set out the benefits that community food growers can deliver to local economic resilience and how local authorities can best support them.

Essential rural workers’ accommodation for local authorities. This guide sets out the primary considerations for decision makers when determining applications for low impact agricultural dwellings in England, and helps identify applications that should be granted consent.

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Related publications

Research reports and publications written by the Shared Assets team

  • Land-Based Social Enterprise: What is standing in the way of new models of common good land use?
    Sep 2015

    This report explores the main issues faced by land-based social enterprises and strategies for addressing them.

    At Shared Assets we believe that land is a common resource and that it should be made to work for everyone. A combination of problems mean that land use today rarely works for the common good. Land-based social enterprise helps tackle many of these problems by delivering new, sustainable, models of land use that deliver social, environmental and economic value. The movement is still relatively new, and a number of issues block its progress. The report sets out immediate and more structural issues faced by land-based social enterprises, and describes the strategies we think can help address them. [Read the full report here]

    Download report

  • Learning about Land: Skills, training and employment for land-based social enterprises
    Jan 2016

    This report addresses the skills deficit in the land-based sector, and how access to suitable training and clear career pathways could help to alleviate this deficit.

    Making land work requires many skills. Accordingly, access to good, comprehensive training schemes is crucial to developing a land-based sector that works for everyone. This report provides an overview of the skills needed to work in or lead a land-based social enterprise, how people commonly go about gaining and developing those skills, and the problems and solutions that emerge from this. [Read the full report here]

    Download report

  • Making Public Land Work: how social enterprises can help local authorities make the most out of their land
    Jul 2016

    This report explores how social enterprises can help improve local authority land management. It highlights the key ‘need to know’ information about local authorities and social enterprises, potential barriers new partnerships might face, and a range of ways to promote these models.

    The report draws on research and our wider consultancy work to introduce the key issues we identified. It also proposes a range of strategies for enabling social enterprises and local authorities to work together to make public land work for everyone. [Read the full report here]

    Download report

Related news and opinion

Blog articles, news and opinion pieces from the Shared Assets team

Better Land Based Economies

Community food enterprises are a success story of local collective action and have the potential to make significant contributions to local economic resilience. However despite its success, and the existence of some supportive policy drivers, the sector faces barriers to realising its full potential.

Read more

Creating resilient food systems

We’ve been researching how community food enterprises contribute to local economic resilience. Here Simon Platten from Tamar Grow Local describes their model, based on sharing resources such as land, equipment and people power.

Read more