The idea of a collective has its roots in an attempt to understand what causes most farms, especially those by weekend urban farmers, to fail. We have studied the workings of more than 20 farms that were setup by folks with extreme enthusiasm that did not pan out the way they wanted them to. Our collectives, the way we create them and the way we operate are an attempt to answer this question and navigate through the complexities of a ecologically and economically viable farm.
We as Beforest play enabler in setting these farms up. It’s pretty much as if you were to buy, setup and experiment with running a farm yourself, except that now, there’s 50 others who share the vision, effort, resources, ideas, knowledge, risks, wins and highs, and losses and setbacks and more. It makes it all a lot more possible, and a lot more fun!
For this to happen, and to keep the risks for us and hence the costs for the members low, we need a seed group to form and participate in the process from day zero. Here’s a quick description of how this works :
We come up with a proposal of a region/rough location/specific options where we propose to setup a forest farm as a collective. We outline the range of pricing, the range of size and other attributes we’re looking at. We also define a seed group size that we’re looking to get on board for this. Forming this group helps us know for sure about the interest levels in the proposed idea and location, and helps us crowdfund the initial working capital to get the project off the ground. It also initiates the dialogue with the member community early to get ideas and inputs as the design process starts.
Folks buying into the idea and not the location, are expected to come onboard at this point by forwarding the booking amount (Usually Rs.5,00,000 approximately) as a post dated cheque – a sign of commitment to the process. This cheque will not be encashed at this stage. These set of early adopters constitute what we refer to as the seed community.
This cheque is only encashed when the pre-decided number of people have joined the seed community within 3 months of making the first announcement. In case, we fall short of the pre-decided number of members in the seed community, then the cheque is returned and we go back to the drawing board.
Once the seed community is formed, we move on to the next step.
The cheques are encashed at this point to kickstart activities. We work on creating specific options in the area mentioned in the idea proposed, and present these specific options that the members can go and see to evaluate.
The amount paid as the commitment for the seed community is completely refundable if a firm project proposal – with specific pieces of land that members can go see and evaluate, and a target price – doesn’t emerge by a specific date.
Once the community votes on and picks an option from those presented, we proceed with the due diligence on the land, ownership, etc. We also close negotiations with the current property owners, and update members about the final pricing based on this. In case the legal checks fail, or negotiations fail to materialize for the option(s) picked, we will refund the amount minus the costs incurred for the due diligence etc at actuals. If the members want, we will pursue other available options within a specified time frame.
Once due diligence on the land checks out, we go ahead with purchase process. In parallel as this is happening, more members are onboarded. Eventually the collective is fully subscribed i.e, all the land available has been registered in the name of the members.