Stockwood Community Benefit Society

Redditch, Worcestershire, UK

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A COMMUNITY, A FARM AND A BANK

An ethically-run farm and rural business park are inspiring local people to produce and buy food sustainably for the community's benefit, with help from CAF Bank.

Rush Farm and Stockwood Business Park are sustainably run for the community's benefit.

We can all play a part in helping conserve our planet’s natural resources by getting our food in a sustainable, ethical way. That's the vision behind a community farm that CAF Bank has helped to grow with two loans totalling £1.8 million.

Thanks to the bank’s backing, Stockwood Community Benefit Society (SCBS) has been able to manage a business park and a plot of land at Rush Farm, in Worcestershire, with the aim of supporting the local community and businesses to get engaged in ethical farming.

Speaking about the project, Sebastian Parsons, co-owner of Stockwood, said: “The funds enabled us to transfer the farm’s ownership to the community which is a much more sustainable model and is something land owners care about.

“We had several conversations between many different banks, but working with a small, supportive bank is a fundamentally different experience. A small bank team is more personally interested in projects and that is quite refreshing. You know that you aren’t dealing with a computer programme, but are dealing with actual people and you feel very close to people who are making the decisions and that really helps.”


AWARD-WINNING RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT

Stockwood is a co-operative society which also advocates for effective waste recycling and low energy solutions, including its award-winning programme of combined solar electricity and ground source heat pump.

Sebastian added: “We want the land to be respected and this project is very important as we need a safer planet – if you don’t respect the planet how are you going to survive? Organic food is also about better quality food, which I see as the only way forward.

“There is a community here and tenants are invited to join in. There is a lot of pride felt by all involved in being part of this community.”

The community-owned farm is based at a business park with over 200 employees, encouraging staff to grow and buy their food locally. The farm’s other claim to fame was in providing the inspiration for ‘The Archers’, the world’s longest-running radio soap opera.

CAF Bank has had an ongoing relationship with the Benefit Society over the last few years, with the most recent loan in 2017 totalling £210,000.

SCBS is servicing the loans with the help of rental income from the business park and feed-in tariff income from selling its self-generated electricity to the National Grid.


FINANCING YOUR PLANS

If your charity or community group is considering how to finance a project that will further its mission, talk to our charity loan experts or download CAF’s guide to repayable finance.

Loan applications subject to credit assessment. Security will be required.

Charity assets may be at risk if you do not keep up with the repayments for a mortgage, loan or any other debt secured on them.

If you're thinking of consolidating existing borrowing, you should be aware that you may be extending the term of the debt and increasing the total amount you pay.

CAF Bank Limited (CBL) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 204451. Authorisation can be checked on the financial services register at www.fca.org.uk

CBL Registered office is 25 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4JQ. Registered under number 1837656. CBL is a subsidiary of Charities Aid Foundation (registered charity number 268369).