On Saturday, I made the first of these research visits, travelling to Stream Farm, near Bridgwater in Somerset (UK). Stream Farm is an award-winning organic farm, set up by James and Henrietta Odgers 13 years ago. On 250 acres, it has multiple enterprises, including beef, chicken, lamb, pork, trout, bottled spring water, sheepskins, honey, and apple juice.
To manage such a diverse production is an impressive feat on its own. However, what makes Stream Farm even more interesting is its unconventional business model. This is what was particularly appealing for me to visit and to discover more.
Stream Farm is a share farming operation. While James and Henrietta are the farmers and own the land and stock, they invite individuals and families to come and share in the labour and management of the individual enterprises. It is the intention that each enterprise could be a stand-alone business and able to pay the salary of the person ‘sharing’ the labour.
This is a really inspiring structure and not surprising that someone like James would be behind it. James has worked with urban regeneration and micro-enterprises for over thirty years, so in a way this is a translocation of his passion and skill to a rural context.