We would like quite a lot of land in order for the community to be sustainable and be adequate for our needs. The land will be used for a variety of different purposes including permaculture smallholding as well as space for conservation land such as meadows, ponds, woodland, hedgerows, etc.
Woodland, can serve many purposes. It could be used for the forest school idea, as well as wildlife, amenity and source of fuel. More land would also be needed for other wildlife areas and the kitchen garden area. A market garden or smallholding adds even more acres. The amount of land also depends on its quality and type as well accessibility, aspect, altitude, prevailing winds, amount of rainfall, soil type and so on. Other features such as a suitable site for a wind turbine or water for hydro-generation will also be desirable.
In addition to our own ‘subsistence’ needs the project is an economic one; using part of our land for the needs of others in the area for example by growing vegetables for sale.
The idea is that the land would support a large number of different projects which would be run side by side and complement each other – everything is connected to everything else and would therefore be sustainable as a whole enterprise. This does not mean that all members of the group would necessarily be involved in all projects.
So how much is ‘quite a lot of land’? We initially stated that we needed a minimum of 10 acres but to implement all these ideas would require considerably more than this. Our current thinking is that for horticulture, if this were to include any kind of market garden business we would need about 10 acres of good quality land. In addition to this we would want about two acres for buildings, gardens, etc and at least 10 acres of existing or potential woodland and wildlife/amenity land. The latter could be low value ‘marginal’ land, since, quite apart from the cost, we would be uncomfortable about taking good agricultural land out of production for these purposes.
No site will have exactly the right balance of different land uses so all in all we are looking for at least 20 acres with a maximum of about 50 acres.