The Crossing Crowdfunder

Family Smallholding challenge the planners: Defending the right to farm for good food & biodiversity not for profit. Value life not money.

We did it!

On 9th Apr 2017 we successfully raised £5,445 with 123 supporters in 49 days

The Crossing Crowdfunder

  • Challenging the planners
  • Defending the right to farm for good food, not for profit
  • Making biodiversity key to farm decisions
  • Defending access to land and affordable housing
  • Valuing Soil, Water & Air over financial gain.

The Goodwin family bought land and are living and working on 8.5 acre Small holding in Forest Row, East Sussex, know as "The Crossing".  We grow affordable food, free from pesticides, supplying locals with fruit, veg and eggs in our Community Supported Agriculture scheme.  Every Tuesday is Tune-in Tuesday offering education, celebration and volunteering opportunities to locals and international visitors.  Our small flock laying hens is run as a co-op,  our sheep and breeding pigs are team members in husbanding the land using Regenerative Agriculture.  Biodiversity and community involvement are key aims on this small farm.

"60% of our invertebrate species are in decline" Sussex Wildlife Trust (this means LIFE is taking a nose dive, people, no pollinators and YOU DON'T EAT)

We applied to the local planning authority for a temporary change of use, from agricultural to residential, whilst we implemented the business plan and got started.   Wealden Council says we are 'causing harm' to the Ashdown Forest and refused.  As we prepared our appeal they issued 4 enforcement notices (therefore pricing us out of the best possible appeal option) stating we must remove all the structures that allow us to do this work, and vacate our own land, effectively shutting down our small business and making us homeless.

We are challenging the decision, and need your help. This legal dispute and challenge to the planning system could help other small holders' access to land and benefit the wider community.  You can learn more about what we're facing and read some documents by watching this 5min short about our story.

This fund is required because an initial planning application (lodged with no professional help) to the Local Council was refused, and enforcement notices issued stating that we should vacate our own land and remove everything from site.  This is despite Wealden council's own agricultural appraisal stating there is a need to dwell on the land to fulfill the aims of our business plan.  If we are to continue the work: to pursue our aims in creating a profitable small holding and a convivial society in a flourishing biosphere, we must challenge the authorities. 

Challenging authority is only possible with professional help.   Our barrister, solicitor and planning consultants all  recognise the possible benefits to the wider community.  If the case is lost,  then costs may be payable and that is why we must create this buffer fund.  All of history's great injustices have required men and women to stand up, and sometimes be shot down, this is how we triumphed over slavery, apartheid and votes for women.  Access to land for start up farmers may seem trivial to some.  Without good soil and people to husband the land holistically, as a nation, we are slowly starved and poisoned.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE MONEY IF WE WIN?   After covering costs already incurred, and improving our fencing and polytunnels, we would like to donate any excess to The Ecological Land Co-op.

The Ecological Land Co-op work hard to make available affordable small plots with planning permission for smallholders (recently featured on R4's The Food Programme.)   We are currently receiving funding from The Plunkett Foundation to help us become a Community Interest Company, and open up more opportunities for co-operation in the community.

"70 of the World's food is produced by small farmers" source

Our actions are born out of a keen desire to see all life thrive and recognise our place in husbanding the land for good food whilst providing 'ecosystem services': cleaning water, clean air, building deep dark indestructable soils. We grow foods free from pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics, whilst enhancing and protecting the web of life, and attempting to dispell the fears.   Human habitation and interaction can benefit wildlife, there's an estimated 47% increase in biodiversity and wildlife habitat since our work at The Crossing began. 

The Goodwin Family moved onto the land in September 2014 to start work.  Some people support this action and others see it as wrong doing.  Although our actions are in no way illegal, and cause no harm, loss or injury to any man; how we are being dealt with will depend on individual perspectives.  Wealden Council have treated this project unjustly and neglected to acknowledge the wider benefits to the biosphere

How this project is perceived will depend on whether or not the 'dead-end' nature of Industrial Agriculture is recognised and if resiliant and abundant food growing systems are made obvious.  It is our opinion that resilient food growing systems are made possible using Restoration Agriculture , Regenerative Agriculture, Permaculture and Agroecology.  It is our opinion that industrial agro-chemical farming contributes to the destruction soil, can pollute water ways, and produces food that is deficient in minerals and vitamins.  Industrial scale factory farming is inhumane to farm animals and damages the land and human health with toxic residues. 

NFU (National Farmer's Union) reports: "We have less than 100 harvests left" (if we continue to mistreat the soil, upon which our lives depend, with industrial agrochemical practices)

So how do we find another way if we are barred access to land?

We are bringing attention to the small army of people who are ready and willing to commit to a life of small scale, low impact farming, to work co-operatively to produce food for their communities and work towards food sovereignty for the UK post Brexit, but who have no access to land.  

We also aim to highlight the woeful lack of affordable housing in rural areas, and provision for agricultural workers.  In post Brexit Britain it will be wise to aim for a higher percentage of our food to be home grown.

"More Farmers = Better Food" The Landworkers Alliance  working hard to lobby for small farms

Current "One Planet" planning policy in Wales encourages small scale agriculture.  Planning policy in the South East, although full of reference to biodiversity, climate change and green house gas emmissions is failing to recognise and make provision for the small scale farms that have the potential to bring solutions to these pressing issues.

The Crossing  is illustrating and promoting the C.S.A. model.   In our Community Supported Agriculture scheme,  members share the risks and rewards of small scale agriculture, paying for a weekly share of the harvest. 

If our campaign has done nothing else but open people's eyes to the possibilities of regenerative agriculture,  dispell the fears surrounding depletion of our environment and improve our health, then we will have succeeded in sowing the seeds of a brighter future.

Rob Hopkins from Transition writes: "The creation of local food systems, the relearning of skills, and the provision of healthy organic food are central to a resilient culture. The Crossing is a great project, a brave enterprise, and it deserves your support.  Please help it to flourish, to thrive, to grow.  It tells of tale of how the future could be that we need now, more than ever". 

for your entertainment and to make ourselves feel a bit better... "The REGULATORS"

Read full story

Got an idea like this?

Start your Crowdfunder