Christian care group Jubilee on course to open first community-owned farm

Jubilee directors Rebecca Stevenson, John Martin, Noreen Christian OP, Dr Jonny Hanson and Dr Jeni McAughey with the Community Share Offers
Jubilee directors Rebecca Stevenson, John Martin, Noreen Christian OP, Dr Jonny Hanson and Dr Jeni McAughey with the Community Share Offers

A Christian care organisation in Co Antrim is on course to open Northern Ireland’s first community-owned farm.

Having already raised £165,000 to purchase a farmhouse in Larne, Jubilee are now offering shares in their co-operative to generate £145,000 to buy 13.5 acres of land as well as polytunnels and other equipment.

More than 40 people attended the recent launch of Jubilee’s community share offer at City Church Cafe in Belfast.

At the event, they heard from managing director Dr Jonny Hanson about the vision for the project.

He said the plan is to farm organic pigs, poultry, goats and vegetables, plus introduce an internship programme, and even glamping in due course.

Panel members Rev Richard Kerr, Jim Kitchen and Tiziana O’Hara shared their own reasons for supporting the project, and its importance as an example of sustainable community enterprise, creating economic, ecological, social and spiritual value.

For the first six months of 2018, Jubilee was able to use a temporary site in Larne.

Dr Hanson said: “In that short space of time we achieved a great deal of exciting things.

“Over 100 volunteers attended one of our monthly community volunteer days and almost 100 primary school children attended one of our curriculum-based nature education learning sessions.

“Twenty-four families each purchased a subscription to our pig club and received a quarter pig’s worth of free range pork in return. And at our Bioblitz Festival of Science and Nature in June, we welcomed more than 400 members of the public to participate in a 24-hour programme of walks, talks and activities.”

Having already raised £165,000 from existing supporters to purchase the farmhouse, they are now raising £145,000 by Christmas.

As a co-operative social enterprise, Jubilee is raising the money via a community share offer, making this NI’s first community-owned farm.

Dr Hanson said: “Becoming a member of Jubilee Farm is the perfect opportunity for individuals, families, schools, churches, and community groups to come together and invest in a community enterprise that works for the benefit of everyone.”