Here is a great story from Derbyshire. Whistlewood Common Limited, the locally-owned cooperative set up by Melbourne Area Transition, has been celebrating its purchase of almost 10 acres of land near Melbourne. The society’s inaugural event – a “woollies and wellies” party on the land on 2 November included a bring and share lunch, a unique “beating of the bounds” ceremony involving both young and old, and the planting of the first tree.
Whistlewood, a not-for-profit community enterprise, was set up to purchase land on Melbourne Common. The land bought by the group was last held in community ownership before 1791! The group quickly attracted grant funding from The National Forest Company, but still needed to raise a further £50,000 to meet the asking price for the land which was on the open market, and establish a credible plan to manage it.
Within just 16 weeks the group had formed an Industrial & Provident Society (IPS) (a type of co-operative), to hold the land and raised sufficient funds to put in a successful bid for its purchase.
Whistlewood now has nearly 150 members drawn from or with links to Melbourne. This group of individuals and community organisations with an interest in resilient and sustainable local enterprise, will now determine what happens next. Amongst ideas already put forward are orchards, wildlife areas, a food forest, an outdoor kitchen, a celebration space and camping for local youth groups.
I particularly loved the page on the group’s website that read “So many of the projects that we “dreamed” about two years ago when we first started are now fully up and running”. Whistlewood Common Limited is no doubt one of them.