Ben Oubridge – how we bought our workplace – Valley Organics

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What is your vision for the world? Do you imagine yourself living on a piece of land, in a homestead, producing all of your own food, and selling some of your surplus? Who will you be selling that surplus to? Is that another person in another homestead, or town-folk who work in other areas full time? Where are they buying their food now? Can you plug into existing supply chain structures to be able to supply the best food, grown in the most ecologically sound ways to those customers who will not be growing their own?

Looking at the entire picture as permaculture designers. Are we able to look at the supply chain as a whole, and identify elements in it, which we can reuse? Elements that would work in our system in an effective way, so that we can be competitive in the current economy, and still make the changes necessary to address some of the massive challenges that we face.

Also, if you are a worker, currently working as a regular employee, you will find out in this chat, what you can do, with your colleagues to turn that company into a worker cooperative, so that you have complete control over your income.


They experienced flooding on Boxing Day 2015. Shop flooded in 2012 too.

Hebden Bridge – small town (7k people)

Lots of lively independent shops

8 members / directors. Limited company. 3 employees – chose not to take up membership.

Same wages. Meetings every two weeks for common decisions. Specialist roles too.

The shop was purchased by employees of two people who started the shop.

Like being self employed but without the stress of doing it all alone.

Several coops are present in the town.

Loan from coop bank, employee capital, loan stock from friends, and other local people (this included veg bonds, instead of interest on the money) – to purchase the business. The burden of the purchase cost is manageable.

Veg bonds are interesting – save lots of money – the value of the veg to the client is higher than the cost to the coop, and the entire process of selling to other people to get the money, paying tax on that, and then paying out the interest is avoided, saving cost.

North and south divide – most people in the south, London area, don’t really have coops in their minds. You either work as an employee, or are the entrepreneur.

Part of the cost of organic is the certification – especially for smaller growers. Having a relationship with the grower, knowing how they grow can avoid that.

Selling loose quantities allow customers to buy only what they need, avoiding waste, and making it cheaper for them in the long run. it also saves packaging.

To grow they would need to raise capital again, but it is possible, and is down to members to make that call.

Rooting and Fruiting (Beth Morgan) is a supplier. She’s not producing enough for the demand.

What if I was a local supplier? Questions: can we come and see you? What methods? What scale? VO want to be sure they are happy with the methods they are using.

Incredible Farm – Todmorden. Too expensive for them to use. The only supplier that Ben knows that used the word permaculture in one way or the other.

Coops UK have outreach workers that can be contacted for advice for starting a coop.

Enterprise forum idea, where business ideas can be pitched to the local community for support and finance.


Hebweb – community website in the town.

Sagar Lane Market Garden

Music used: Luxe by Jahzzar is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License.

This is a fledgling project, that is taking a considerable amount of time, and a little bit of money. If you found this informative, entertaining, helpful, and think that it could help someone else, please share using the buttons below. Many thanks!

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