We’re really worried about our future as growers. We hear a lot about how people are becoming more aware of the importance of local food systems and how there’s been this turn towards fresh, local, small scale farms and short supply chains, which is all great. But we feel at the mercy of a small number of locals who are against us. Even though we’re sure most local people like or even love what we’re doing.
We’re in our first full growing year and it’s obviously been quite a year so far. Apart from setting up a business with 2 little kids and part-time teaching jobs, we’ve had to adapt to the Covid-normal and start a veg delivery scheme (which filled up with a waiting list within a few days of opening). That really encouraged us and made us feel the community was behind us. In Winter I went to 4 public meetings and sent letters to all local people informing them of what we were setting up. Despite all this, we’ve had the Parish Council turn against us as they would rather the land was ‘uninterrupted grassland’. In objection letters to planning apps they even say we are negatively affecting people. They object to us having a trampoline for our two kids to play on while we’re working. They’re trying to prevent everything as we’re ‘within the setting of an AONB’. We’re just outside an AONB.
We’re really concerned that a few loud locals have swayed the Parish council and they’ll have the power to reject polytunnels, the barn we’ll have to get a loan to build and infrastructure like an extension to a track. They can make life so difficult and expensive that they’ll bankrupt us; all because they don’t want change.
It’s really stressing us out and making us feel unwelcome on land we saved for 15 years to buy.
Does anyone have any advice? It is just making us so sad at the moment, keeping us awake at 4am, that sort of thing. I’m a member of LWA and OGA and wonder if there is any potential advice/support in such situations.
Dan. Two Acre Farm, Somerset.
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