Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farm is above all a community initiative. It was founded in 1995 following a community-led impulse that raised over £150,000 to purchase the stock and business assets of Tablehurst Farm from Emerson College. Community ownership - and community responsibility for the land - has lain at the heart of the initiative ever since. We are constantly striving to increase both the amount of community involvement in the farms, and the number of individuals who get involved. This page tells you some of the ways this happens.
Our Co-operative and farms are currently owned by about 400 individuals, mostly living local to Forest Row, but also elsewhere in the UK and around the world. They have each paid £100 for a share in the Co-operative. You can join their number now by downloading the share form (opens in a new window) and following the instructions. We are very keen to extend our circle of farm partners and would welcome your application.
The Co-op publishes a newsletter, normally five times a year which is sent to all shareholders and available free of charge in both our farm shops. All the old newsletters are here on the website for download, and anyone can have a regular copy by email. Just send your request by email to email@example.com.
People get involved with the farms in a wide variety of ways. Some are just regular shop customers, and many, especially those with children, just come to look around and see the animals. However, it doesn't need to stop there.
Farm walks are regularly organised and open to all. The group is accompanied by a farmer who describes the seasonal activity on the farm. From time to time, sometimes in conjunction with a walk, and sometimes separately, talks are arranged on a particular aspect of biodynamic farming as practised at Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch.
Sometimes a farm walk or talk ends with a meal, either prepared on the farm or on a "bring and share" basis. The one guaranteed barbecue every year takes place in the Tablehurst sheep barn in September, at the annual Michaelmas barn dance.
Regular visits are arranged for children from the local Forest Row schools, and requests are regularly accepted for visits from schools much further afield who want to teach their children about sustainable, humane approaches to farming. Every summer, Plaw Hatch Farm plays host to longer visits with children camping on the farm.
From time to time, and according to the needs of the farms, volunteers are invited to assemble to assist with the work of the farmers. These vary from core tasks such as hedge planting (a group of more than thirty of us planted over a mile of traditional mixed hedge plants last winter) and weeding leeks (yes it is enjoyable - honest!) to a bulb-planting day designed to brighten up the Tablehurst farm yard.
The Co-op holds its annual AGM every September. Although only shareholders can vote at this meeting, anyone from the community is warmly welcomed. The meeting comprises a formal part, in which accounts are received and a new committee is elected for the coming year, followed by presentations about the year's events on the farms and in the Co-op.
For those who feel the work of the Co-op is important, this is the opportunity to stand for election to the Co-op committee. The committee is always on the look-out for people who would be willing to serve, and it is empowered to co-opt additional members between AGMs. To join the committee, one must first become a shareholder.
If you have read all this way, feel interested and would like to find out more, please do get in touch. Details of how are on the contact us page