We are a community of about 50 (adults and children), ranging in age from 0 to mid 70s, living in a Georgian manor and 40 acre organic farm in Herefordshire. The house and stable-block are divided into 19 self-contained homes of varying size, so the community includes singletons, couples and families. We do not have a common philosophy, religious or political stance, though there is a prevailing sympathy with green issues.
Canon Frome Court is owned by the Windflower Housing Association, a co-ownership housing association, Those who join the community purchase one of the homes on a 999-year lease, just as they would any other leasehold home, and may sell the home when they wish to leave to an approved buyer. A charity – the Frome Society – manages the hosting of events and workshops such as basket making, singing and badminton. The community also hosts WWOOFERS during the summer.
We farm our land co-operatively and organically (to Soil Association standards as far as possible, but we are not certified organic) to produce a considerable proportion of our food, including a good deal of our own meat. Our stock includes cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and bees. We have a walled kitchen garden of about 2 acres growing vegetables and soft fruits, a large greenhouse, a small greenhouse, 2 polytunnels and a couple of orchards. Our arable land provides wheat for our flour, potatoes, further vegetables and animal fodder. Dogs are generally discouraged, mainly because of the livestock.
In addition to working together and managing the housing association, other community activities currently include supper on Saturday nights (Pot Luck), trips to the pub, a house band, as well as celebrations – Bonfire Night, Christmas, Easter, the Summer Party, solstice celebrations, children’s birthdays – and the agricultural rituals of haymaking, harvesting, potato-lifting, fruit picking.
Looking after livestock, growing food, maintaining buildings and equipment and administrative tasks take considerable time, energy and commitment from all of us – although this will vary depending on whether people have full- or part-time jobs and/or young children to look after. We finance activities by monthly contributions, according to size of home and family. Our children attend a range of local schools.
Members meet weekly (usually on Thursday) to discuss and plan the many aspects of life here. We attempt to reach decisions by consensus. The meetings are organised as follows:
|The Windflower Housing Association: dealing with the estate, legal matters, sale of housing, new members, insurance, maintenance, budgeting, and reports from the other meetings.|
|The Co-op (the farming co-operative): managing livestock, garden, fields, machinery, budgeting.|
|The Frome Society (a registered charity): organising the letting of rooms and facilities for occasional events, workshops and meetings.|
|House: a focus for concerns that are not easily slotted into the above meetings (frequently the problems that arise from living communally and the shifting focus as we change and develop)|
All except “House” meetings are formally organised with a chair, secretary and treasurer, and minutes are taken. Administrative tasks such as these, as well as the co-ordination of all aspects of co-operative work (e.g. fields, garden, machinery, animals, maintenance), can be onerous. These jobs may not be apparent to visitors but, for those hoping to join us, such roles need to be considered.
Interested in becoming a member? Please contact our Membership Secretary at [email protected]
We occasionally have properties available, see the Vacancies page for more info.