‘Community enterprise saved our bacon!’
Phil Knibb, Chief Executive at Alt Valley Enterprising Communities, tells us how Croxteth Home Farm was saved from closure.
As well as being a working farm, Croxteth Home Farm is home to over two hundred animals including Irish Moil and Highland cattle, Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot Pigs, various endangered breeds of sheep and goats, horses, ponies, donkeys and other small animals.
The farm was once part of the historic Earl of Sefton’s Estate and sits next to the grade 2* listed Croxteth Hall in the scenic Croxteth Park.
Despite being one of Liverpool’s most popular visitor attractions, it was under threat of closure due to funding pressures on the council. When we heard about the problem we worked with a leading Liverpool social business, the Neighbourhood Services Company (NSC), to take over the farm.
That was back in September, and our newly opened farm now employs some of the former Council staff. We’ve also drafted in workers from a nearby agricultural enterprise, Larkin’s Farm, also run by the NSC. Larkin’s farm is set in 200 acres of land, was established in Victorian times, and, like Croxteth Home Farm, was formerly part of Sefton Estate.
We are going to link the two farms to develop the Larkin’s Farm Produce business brand, with the aim of selling produce from the farm throughout Liverpool.
There are also plans to link up the Environmental Education Centre, and the two farming areas, to create and maximize the potential for education and employment opportunities for surrounding communities.
The farm is just one of a range of different community businesses we’ve been involved in at Alt Valley that are making a difference to the lives of local people. We’re very excited about the launch of the Power to Change – it’s really great news for community enterprises – old and new.
The Big Lottery Fund has awarded an endowment of £150 million to the Power to Change Trust to provide funding, support and inspiration to existing and new community businesses in England. Find out more about the Power to Change.