So, Earthworm Housing Co-operative. What's that?
What..? A housing cooperative is a “non hierarchical property management company”. It's an organisation which lets people work together to manage the accommodation they live in without having to buy it.
Where..? We are situated in Herefordshire on the outskirts of the village of Leintwardine, close to the borders with Wales and Shropshire and very close to the River Teme. We are 8 miles from Ludlow and Knighton, 14 miles from Leominster, 25 miles from Hereford, 27 miles from Shrewsbury and our nearest big cities are about 2 hours drive away (Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool or Manchester). Herefordshire is one of the most sparsely populated counties in England, but we aren't really a remote location. For more information about our locality click on “what we offer” above and read on.
How..? Earthworm Housing Co-op has existed since 1988 when it took over the long established Wheatstone Commune (click on 'history' above if you're actually more interested in what this place used to be, than what it is now). Earthworm is a fully mutual housing co-op – all members pay rent and all members share the decisions about how this rent is spent. Were putting off gardening our seven acres until we've significantly improved our three unique buildings. More about how it works in “how we self-organise” and "Work commitment", which drop down as options when you hover on "what we offer" above.
Who..?There have been over 75 members since 1988. In November 2011 there was a complete change in membership and control of the housing co-op. The current 9 members are working to refurbish and renovate the co-op, so that it becomes more comfortable, sound, fuel-efficient, stable and sustainable.
None of us live in yurts or benders - we are no longer a ‘super-low-impact vegan co-op’, we use and own motor vehicles and we are committed to living in the buildings and working in the buildings and on the land. There's lots more information about our plans on the rest of this website, which we hope leads to more people getting in touch with an interest in becoming members or volunteering.
Though we're a housing provider, we also run this housing co-op as a business, together. If you are _just_ seeking cheapish housing this is not the place for you, but if you want to help manage and utilise land and buildings, it might be.
When all the residences are finished we'll turn our attention to the 4-rooms+camping conference facility that will exist here, running short courses and gatherings.
If you're more interested in what happened before we arrived, there's an article about the history of the place on pages 8,9 and 10 of issue 65 at the Leintwardine Life website:
The Buildings... The main property is 'Wheatstone House' which was built in 1909, along with a stable block comprising workshops with a flat above and a smaller “lodge house” which all together can be home for up to 15 adults plus children, in a mixed model with some self contained flats and a spacious shared house too. We are substantially improving the accommodation and moderately changing the layout. There is also a 30-year-old timber-framed barn, 3 polytunnels from the '90s, a hundred-year-old green house and a nice modern static caravan. We share orcahrds, gardes, woodland and a few good workshop spaces too.
The Land.... contains a kitchen garden, two well established orchards, lots of soft fruit and mature trees. We have our own wetland system which deals with the water from washing and flushing. We also have dry-composting toilets, but you don't have to use them. We also have small areas of meadow and an acre of woodland. There's more information about our land and our plans for it, in the “land” section on this website.
If you have never heard of “co-operatives” before, do read http://www.cda.coop/coopprinciples.htm for a very general outline of what it means to be a co-operative. The rest of this website is full of specifics about Earthworm Housing Co-operative.