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#MakingLandWork in practice: training day

Tom Kenny

Following the success of our first policy conference and the launch of our #MakingLandWork microsite on Friday 12th June we gathered on Saturday morning in St Luke’s’ loft to turn our minds to practice. We were joined by 12 land-based social entrepreneurs for a day of training and discussions.

Attendees came from organisations including a community orchard, a castle heritage park, a bee friendly  growing space outside a bus garage and a food growing workers’ co-operative on the outskirts of London. The range of projects present was a testament to the kind of exciting, imaginative things land based social enterprise can do for environments, communities and local economies.

During the day’s introductions, as each person described their project, enthusiastic discussions buzzed round the room. Everyone shared key strengths and challenges they were aware of in their project, prompting questions, advice and thoughtful contributions from others. Witnessing this pooling of experience in the room, it was clear these were like minded people who could learn a great deal from each other.

Spurred on by plenty of coffee, we moved on to the main portion of training for the day. Kate covered some fundamental issues many land based projects face and talked through through the possibilities offered by different business models, and legal and governance structures. In the accompanying PowerPoint presentation, a skeptical kitten was used to explain the implications of different legal structures!

Using some of our video case studies to illustrate her points, Kate also covered some of the ‘‘soft” but invaluable skills needed for building a successful land based social enterprise. She walked attendees through tools and strategies for working with people, particularly in campaigns and community groups, and presented some of the implications of land ownership versus other options for gaining access to land. All attendees also received a case study pack, thought guide and decision making toolkit. These resources were designed to support them to make clear, well-informed decisions about how to grow their organisations.

Overall, the day was a great end to our weekend of #MakingLandWork. As a practice based organisation, we are always excited to see what is happening with land based social enterprises on the ground (forgive the pun!).

Seeing this assortment of enthusiastic, innovative projects not only use the concepts, tools and resources delivered in our training, but talk to and learn from one another, was a real treat. Whilst we have been committing serious a lot of attention to our policy and research work, this event reminded us how crucial it is to retain a our practice-based approach.

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