November 2020 Update

It has been a while since we last posted so I thought it would be good to continue to develop the conversation around Wellington Community Food. The below all seems quite serious, the objective remains to access a plot of land (targeting a minimum of 1 acre to start) and try out growing together. However if money becomes involved and there is rent to pay or infrastructure required it will be in our collective interest to have a structure to support us and make sure everyone who wants to be involved is protected and has a voice.
We are seeking volunteers to form a working group to explore the options for establishing an organisation in order that we can react quickly should an opportunity arise, it will also be a clear measure of our intent. If you are willing to be part of this group please reply by Friday 20th November. We will then organise a web meeting for this group to discuss ideas and divide up tasks and report back to the wider group of supporters.
Read on for more details of recent thoughts:


We had a promising lead with a landowner that I had hoped would provide an opportunity to establish ourselves with a plot to start growing on (in both senses). Unfortunately that lead seems to have gone quiet for now and so we are still looking for land. 
Finding the first couple of acres is going to be the toughest challenge. If you are a landowner or have contacts with local landowners on the outskirts of town who they think might be interested in renting some land to or forming a partnership with Wellington Community Food then please get in touch. It would be great if individuals could use their connections and have those conversations and report back if there is potential to talk directly to them.
If we are to be proactive we need to start approaching neighbouring landowners. The registered owners of land can often be found via the Land Registry ( this only costs £3 per search, we have identified a maximum of 10 landowners around the town whose land would be in a suitable location. We have the title numbers for this land but haven’t undertaken the searches to get the registered addresses. One major task is to develop a letter and materials to contact landowners with.

Forming an organisation

The next element is to establish an organisation to take forward any opportunity. From speaking to various groups that support community enterprises establishing a Community Benefit Society (CBS) remains the most appropriate model. However as explored below this is expensive and an alternative short term option would be to create a Community Interest Company Limited by Guarantee.

Community Benefit Societies

In order to do this we would have to register with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. This is not a cheap process (it will cost Wellington Community Food £550 – £950), the most cost effective route is to have a sponsoring body (this isn’t financial sponsorship more providing backing to the application that the FCA recognise and speeds up the application process) who can provide the society with model rules that the FCA can automatically approve. There are three sponsoring bodies that I have approached the Plunkett Foundation, Co-operatives UK and Somerset Co-operative Services CIC (who are an agent for Co-operatives UK). Both Plunkett and Co-op UK have experience with community food projects and have support successful and well know community farm businesses. All of the above charge for their services but are more cost effective then applying to the FCA independently which incurs a £950 fee. Membership of one of the above plus advice and permission to use their model rules would cost Wellington Community Food around £500 plus the FCA fee which will be £40, if the model rules don’t require any changes. I am waiting for call backs from the above sponsoring bodies following initial enquiries. An example of the model rules is available at:, although not an expert it looks at first reading like very little would need changing for us. The registration process should take about a month to complete. It’s therefore important that we are in a position of knowing that a project is going to proceed before incurring a significant cost and therefore I am inclined to be prepared to submit an application but not do so until we are ready to progress with a site.

CIC Limited by Guarentee

A simpler and cheaper option which can be converted to a CBS at a later date if/when we want to offer a community share offer. This costs <£30 to register and model documents are available here:


I have spoken to Tirodos Bank about opening an account, they are not currently accepting new applications at the moment due to demand but intend to start taking applications in January again. Triodos would be my favoured bank due to their ethical credentials and experience with community groups.


We need to form a committee. It would be good to form a committee people who are prepared to take on roles within the society this group would likely form the founder members and the board of directors until the first AGM is held and they can be elected from the wider membership once that is established. Volunteers to become founder members are welcomed. You don’t have to commit to becoming a director if you want to join the committee but just be prepared to be part of a working group to undertake the tasks below. I don’t think we need to be sending details of the general work on the tasks below to all 90 people who are now following the group.

  • Decide on approach to establishing a CBS – should we move to establishing it sooner rather than later or do the preparation and wait until a tangible option on land materialises. Pros and cons to each due to financial commitment required and ability to respond quickly if another land opportunity arises.
  • Review model rules for CBS.
  • Refine objectives and vision for CBS.
  • Actively explore opportunities with neighbouring landowners. I have a list of all the Land Registry titles for suitable land on the periphery of town. We need to search the land registry for address details of these landowners and write to them. (It costs £3 per search, there are less than 10 landowners, I can show someone how to do the searches it’s very easy).
  • Prepare a letter/pitch to landowners.
  • Once land is identified: identify ground preparation required, organise fencing if necessary, design a planting plan, set up site, start growing and establish best ways to engage volunteers.

Thank you,

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