Agrarian Trust

Land Access Strategy: The National Trust of England

An Independent National Model

The National Trust of England is the country’s largest owner of farmland. Agricultural land is one aspect of the organization’s conservation goals. Established in the late 1800s, with a vision for preserving the nation’s heritage and open spaces, the charity organization has continued to uphold the value of their founders. Originally established as an Association not-for-profit in 1884, the trust was soon after given more solidity through various acts of British Parliament. The organization remains independent of government and relies on grants, donors and other sources of income, rather than direct government subsidy.  Some of the funds come from admission to and products from the trusts Home Farm as well as other preserved historic estates.

The trust owns 255,000 hectacres of land in England. Sixty percent of this is rented out in the form of whole farms through their Farm Letting arm. The trust partners with different types of tenants, all with the shared objectives of maintaining the land in a sustainable manner. Working farms owned by the trust include Saddlescombe FarmOutridge Farm and the Wimpole Home Farm.

Wimpole Estate was part of an experiment run by the trust which allowed a 10,000-member public advisory group participate in decisions regarding the operations of the farm. The MyFarm project lasted 18 months.

The organizational structure of the National Trust of England includes a variety of levels of advisors and decision-makers, including a Board of Trustees, a Council, Committees of the Board of Trustees, Regional and Country Advisory Boards and Advisory Panels.

Other British organizations working on sustainable land access solutions are The Community Land Advisory Service and The Countryside Restoration Trust.