Jun 28, 2020
In this episode, I have the great pleasure of interviewing Oliver Bettany, Membership and Engagement Manager at the Ecological Land Co-operative.
Oliver has been an environmental activist for over a decade, more recently focusing on the food sector and sustainable agriculture. Alongside his job at the ELC, he is a humanistic counsellor working with eco-therapy and eco-psychology.
Today's conversation explores the inner workings of the Ecological Land Co-operative, from its vision of a thriving and flourishing small-scale agriculture sector - by bringing awareness of the connections between health, nutrition, carbon emissions and the food system - to the nitty gritty of its governance and financing models which are uniquely designed to regenerate "cultural fertility".
By showing that it is viable to create a small scale farm that works economically, and demonstrate that ecological agriculture is possible, the ELC are proving concepts to the authorities that be that an alternative model of farming and feeding the people is possible.
We go in-depth on co-operative models and Community Benefit Societies, and Oliver talks about the significant investment the ELC puts into researching the impacts of the co-op's daily work, of small-scale agriculture in general and of the concept of a 'land co-operative' that they are pioneering. This investment - and the transparency of organisational learning they are demonstrating - will be of huge value for years to come, as this sector is growing on a daily basis, and is available in the public domain. For an up to date list of publications that ELC has produced in this area, visit https://ecologicalland.coop/publications.
Quote of the episode:
"There should be an inherent sense of wellbeing from working in a more permanent culture - [where it is possible to] live close to the land, where the more than human world of nature is honoured, and where understanding of our relationship with ecology is more embedded in our psyches. In that kind of a culture, work feels like a different kind of endeavour."
Organisations and people mentioned:
The Real Farming Trust
Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience; Coventry University
Permanent Holiday - Mike Love