What are the founding principles? How do we ensure these are adhered to?
While the community will frame a detailed set of rules that everyone will agree to, and sign an MoA with the same detailed, a set of baseline ideas are as follows
• Ownership is individual (except for the common pool of land) but the farm planning, operations, maintenance and P&L are jointly done by all members of the collective.
• The team employed for farm and hospitality operations are employees of the collective, and will be entitled to a min 15% profit share from both agriculture as well as hospitality, outside of the salaries paid.
• The farm will be developed in accordance with the principles of permaculture, with small adaptations and deviations agreed to by the majority of the collective, still in keeping with sustainable agriculture practices.
• All members, current and future, will sign the MoA that ensures they automatically agree to the above, the rules framed by the collective and amendments to the same as effected.
• The initial agreements with beForest for farm management and operations is for 10 years, and provides a sort of a ‘lock-in’ for the collective’s goals.
Who is driving the Collective? What are their authorities and liabilities?
beForest is a private limited firm responsible for
• Project conceptualization, execution oversight.
• Signing up and managing architects, farm consultants, solar vendor etc.
• Farming operations operations for 10 years through a contract signed with the owners’ association or co-operative.
• All land acquisition, construction, large civil work.
• Getting onboard and managing contractors for the same as necessary.
• Engaging with Linger for hospitality operations and marketing through a contract for the same with the community, as well as with individual home owners where desired.
How is the land owned? Definition of each unit? How many in all? Land usage?
• Each unit is 1.25 acres. Of this, 1.06 acres is farm land registered in individual owners’ names, and the rest (0.19 ac) as part of the common pool.
• All construction – of the individually owned units, common infrastructure, staff quarters, hospitality infrastructure will be on the common pool. Other usage may include roads, water bodies etc. Except for the individual units, the ownership of all other assets, and of the common pool of the land itself, lies with the collective association/co-operative.
Who takes decisions on future development?
• The community – association/co-op does it in accordance with the bye laws.
• The bye-laws are themselves being framed by the community with inputs from a lawyer.
What does having a 1.25 acre land really mean? Are all lands parcels the same in terms of being arable, accessible, etc? Will each plot’s land be clearly earmarked? What rights do you have on your plot?
Not all land will be exactly the same, and will not have the same usage, and the best way to make use of it is as part of a large pool. In a large ecosystem, the forest, the riparian zones, the wind breaks – all play a role. A small reversal of the tragedy of the commons if you will. Each plot of land will be earmarked on a map and be identifiable. However there will not be physical demarcations on the ground.
How much effort is required to be put in by every member?
The whole idea is that while most people have an intent to get involved, the amount of effort and time they might be able to put in will vary. This is why beForest professionally manages the farm and oversees the team employed there by the collective to ensure the farm continues to make progress. However, all the effort and time members put into this will help the farm do better, accelerate the experimentation and growth of good ideas, and help create and connect access to markets, value added products, and foster micro-entrepreneurship
We’re also trying to figure out a fair mechanism to account for the efforts of members who’re able to contribute in various ways.
Timeline for construction?
Estimate is about 2.5 years from when we start work immediately following registration.
Are Bank Loans available?
We are in talks with HDFC for extending loans over a part of the land and the home. Will share details shortly.
Can one decide what can be grown on own plot?
Experimentation on land upto 0.25 acres is welcome, and encouraged! Any owner can submit the idea, and timeframe, and help and resourced needed for the same. If association is ok, we’ll go ahead. If it works, we expand to larger scale. If not, cull it and pull land bank into common plans.
Water security – how do we ensure this?
Collective effort + permaculture consultant plans. 3 lakes, couple of dozen gully plugs, swales. Ground water is good, and 3 bore wells yield a lot, but the idea is to trap as much water as possible, and also reduce the need for the same as the forest takes root. In addition, trees are our superstars in the soil and water conservation continuously sinking moisture into the ground.
Can we freely rent out or sell ones property? How will this be governed?
Sell – yes, with a first right of refusal within the collective or referrals from there. Rental – nope. Actually – have not checked on the last bit – I guess we’ll pose it to the community and frame rules accordingly. Governed : thru the sale agreement, bye laws and social pressure
What are the annual maintenance charges? How is this fixed?
Maintenance charges for the first two years is already included in cost. Post that, the P&L statement will determine charges or rev share. Estimates indicate this will not exceed 4.5k/month, and we are targeting a cost neutral operation in 3 years.
~40Lakhs for 1.25 acres. That means almost 30+ L /acre. Isn’t that expensive for buying agriculture land?
We’re actually cutting it v fine! Add the land costs, homes (about 650sqft), solar+grid hybrid power plant, water management structures, etc etc – it adds up really quick. We’re not doing this like a regular real estate project, and the interest is in being involved in sustainable farms and their produce for the long term.
Apples to apples, We are way lower than “just land” prices that real estate folks offer in the area. We are offering this at 74rs/sft while “developers” are doing 150-250/- a sqft !!!
In setting a personal farm the costs that one incurs in terms of infrastructure (water management, staff qtrs, a home, storage, equipment, etc), inputs and salaries will easily be anywhere between 20-25L/acre over a 3 year timespan. This is apart from the check dams and gully plugs that one might construct. We are able to deliver this at a low cost because of the scale. This is where the collective advantage comes in.