The Land Is Ours 

For the past 6 months I have followed the life of a community that strives towards totally self-sufficient and ecologically sound living. The group; comprised of nomads, city squatters and eco-farmers, firmly believe in total equality and an absence of hierarchy.

In June 2012, a small group of eco-farmers moved onto an area of scrubland known as "The Strip" near to an old derelict farmhouse and surrounded by fields. The land, with an unclear history of ownership, had previously been mined, tenant farmed and briefly used by the Ministry Of Defense. In the absence of clear ownership a trust was formed. When the last tenant farmer left in 2004 the trust was reduced to two solicitors.

The community has grown over three years from a handful of determined and hardy sustainable farmers to a diverse group who trade skillsand share responsibilities. Some live in their vehicles and a few stay in the old farm house, but many chose to build their own yurts, tree houses or benders from sticks and found materials; each with a small woodburner to keep the winter months bearable.

Food is grown on site orfound in skips and all electricity is sourced from solar power. Collecting wood for the burners isessential all year round, but alwayscut from dead trees or fallen branches. A small stream runs through the woods, providing water for washing, drinking and cooking via pumps and pipes.It is an Arcadia of sorts. A sustainable woodland eco-village.

In March 2013 the possessory rights of the land were sold to local multi-million pound property developer Brian Bennett, who had previously shown support in the early days of the group's settlement. There is speculation that Bennett's encouragement for the group to occupy the land was to ensure the value of the land would be greatly reduced.

This is a story of land-grabs and a "twenty-first century battle between the powerful and the people." (Survival: The story of Yorkley Court Farm - Past, Present and Future)

Phillipa Klaiber

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