Bosavern Community Farm: a success story

By Elizabeth Knowles

One very encouraging feature of country life in Cornwall has been the growth in the number of community projects – some from a desire to mark the late Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee but many simply as a result of more meaningful engagement with the natural world.  People have planted trees – or whole woods or orchards, restored hedgerows or tackled polluted and overgrown streams. As a shining example of what can be done when people work together, is Bosavern Community Farm near St Just in West Penwith: It continues to be a great success story.

On land overlooking the sea in the far west of Penwith, Bosavern Farm has been developed over the past fourteen years entirely by and for the local community. There are 36 acres in all, with vegetables, fruit, hay meadow, chickens, bees, and 28 allotments. There are wildflower meadows, hedgerows, and woodland, all carefully managed for wildlife, especially pollinators. It is a shining example of the ‘social good’ so often cited by funders as a desirable outcome – but in this case, flowering abundantly from the very nature of the enterprise. This small piece of typical West Penwith farmland was used as a training ground for would-be farmers after the Second World War. It was later bought by Cornwall Council and in 2009 a small group of local enthusiasts leased the land to grow vegetables. Then in 2014 when the Council decided to sell it, a huge fundraising effort was set in motion. The National Lottery’s ‘Local Food’ fund, plus a community share offer, plus a generous local benefactor all contributed and the land was purchased. Bosavern Community Enterprises Ltd was set up as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) charitable organisation with a strong local membership and a management team led by a Board of Directors (directly elected by the members). There is a small core of paid posts and a large team of regular and occasional volunteers. The farm produce is sold in the Farm Shop, at farmer’s markets, in a veg box scheme, and wholesale to local hospitality businesses. They are signed up to the Wholesome Food Association pledge and farm to organic principles. They are mindful of soil enrichment and carbon capture, recycling organic matter, using minimum tillage, and as little mechanisation and as much ‘no-dig’ as possible. The farm has developed a number of schemes and activities in response to local needs for learning or special support and the farm has become a key resource for the wider community in and around St Just. Bosavern is the largest Community Supported Agriculture Project in Cornwall and has received a number of awards and commendations including an ‘Outstanding’ certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society for its pollinator planting. It sets an example of how obviously beneficial, as well as urgently necessary, the production of food is in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable way, for now and for the future.

Read more about Bosavern Community Farm on their website: