How does a Multistakeholder Co-op work?

Lauren and Phil: The Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) was set up to address the lack of affordable sites for ecological land-based livelihoods. A life on the land is a dream for many, but one in which the barriers are high, and the ELC recognised that this needed to be addressed.

The ELC develops affordable, residential smallholdings to new entrants to ecological agriculture. Their approach aims to overcome two key barriers: high land prices and planning permission.

The ELC is a membership organisation: on joining, members become part of the group of people who collectively own the Co-operative and decide how it should be run.

It is a multi-stakeholder co-operative with three types of membership each of which share a proportion of voting rights:

  • Investor Members have invested money in the Co-operative, share 25% of voting rights and receive returns on their investment.
  • Worker Members are those people that work for the Co-operative. Like Investor Members, they also share 25% of voting rights. Worker Members are employees and volunteers that work at least 15 days each year.
  • Steward Members are ecological land managers and share the remaining 50% of voting rights. Voting rights were awarded primarily to Steward Members as they are the principal beneficiaries but often do not have the time to both run their smallholding and serve on the Board of Directors. This category of membership was designed principally for the Co-operative’s smallholders but can be applied for by qualified ecological land users who do not farm one of our smallholdings.

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