Closure threat lifted from Ipswich-based low carbon farm

Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm at Rushmere St Andrew is celebrating after a successful crowdfunding appeal

Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm at Rushmere St Andrew is celebrating after a successful crowdfunding appeal to save it. Pictured are John Revell, Joanne Mudhar and Jason Alexander.

Members of a not-for-profit farm venture near Ipswich are celebrating after it was saved from closure following a crowdfunding appeal.

Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm, a Community Agriculture Scheme in Rushmere-St-Andrew, which has 200 members, managed to raise more than £27,000 in less than a month after revealing that it was running out of funds to keep the business going. Farm members celebrated the good news at the farm harvest party on Saturday.

Owner Joanne Mudhar said she was now “cautiously optimistic” about the future.

“Thanks to the amazing groundswell of support from people both locally, and around the world, we will be able to continue to produce food for our members while caring for people, the planet, our animals and local wildlife,” she said.

“The red tape and hostile government policy are still there. We will have to work very hard in the future to ensure that the farm continues to be a success. We are ready for the challenge and we will continue to highlight the unfair playing field on which our much loved farm operates.”

Thanks to the campaign the farm growers can now earn the minimum wage, buy some essential farm equipment, and develop their promising fruit and cut flower enterprises.

The crowdfunding campaign page is still live, and supporters are now invited to contribute towards fruit trees and bushes to help secure the future success of the farm.

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Farm members continue to offer rewards including limited edition photographic prints, cooking and bee-keeping courses and artwork.

“The campaign has been such an amazing experience, we have had messages of support and contributions from around the world, including North America, India and Australia,” said Ms Mudhar.

“Supporters include farm members, animal welfare campaigners, environmentalists and ecological farming experts, and many members of the public who support the farm goals.”

There are about 65 small community farms across the UK. But any farm below five hectares, as in the case of Oak Tree Farm, does not qualify for a farm subsidy, and many are struggling to find a business model that works, explained Ms Mudhar.

Oak Tree farm would now like to build a small community building to be able to welcome visitors to the farm, including local schoolchildren.

The farm annual tour, which is open to all, takes place at 2pm on Saturday, October 17. Visit www.the-oak-tree.co.uk for details.

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