NAME:  The working name for this proposal is Home Farm Garden Centre (HFGC) – which is invented and will be changed when a specific site is identified.


CONCEPT:  The central concept of HFGC, is to bring together two separate but compatible functions – a supported living environment for older people – and a multi-activity campus of trading social enterprises.  The ‘anchor’ facility of the complex is an organic café/restaurant which acts as the ‘connector’ of all activities – for customers, residents, staff, trainees, visitors.


ETHOS:  The reason for this mix of uses, is to establish a culture of bustling commerce, rather than institutional care.  But within this ‘no nonsense’ business environment, it is social objectives which dominate – evident in the way people respect and look after each other – in model environmental and employment practices – in efforts to ensure that everyone can enjoy a rewarding and purposeful role.


TRADING CAMPUS:  HFGC will begin small and grow organically as circumstances dictate – but from the outset, the site and adjacent land, needs to be able to accommodate the larger vision.  The beginning is a garden centre and restaurant – with good car parking – off a main road.  The success of this trading core is central to the whole concept – so location is paramount (purchasing an existing business would reduce risk).  The advantage of the garden centre type campus, is that it can accommodate an infinite variety of associated ‘bolt-on’ trading activities.  The way this develops will largely depend on the enthusiasm and energy of the individuals who come forward.  The complex would require the continuous services of building trades.


RESIDENTIAL VILLAGE:  Immediately behind the trading campus, the residential village will be constructed – in incremental batches of 6 units – to a maximum of 36 dwellings – all for rent.  Renewable energy – wind, solar wood etc will make the entire complex as near as practicable carbon neutral.  The aim of the residential experience is to offer older people maximum independence within a supportive environment; cook at home or eat in the restaurant; keep to yourself or enjoy shared activities – including creating or helping with a social enterprise.  Community and commercial bustle is available – as is solitude – your choice.


TRAINING:  The core activities of the complex would sit well alongside a working farm, and a few acres of woodland.  Operating as a ‘care farm’, this additional resource could offer further range of activities aimed at children – including contact with animals – play – and the cultivation of organic produce. 
The multiple activities of the combined complex offer an ideal environment for creating work placements, apprenticeships etc. – and the provision of training is an important aspect of the entire enterprise.


PRACTICAL MATTERS:  HFGC is a Scottish Charity with a charter enshrining its values and objectives.  Six voluntary trustees are the legal custodians of the charity – who appoint an executive committee to manage operational matters.  The land, and buildings occupied by HFGC, is held in a land trust controlled by the charity.  The financial model assumes that the residential village, and the social enterprise trading campus, will be independently sustainable.  The funding mechanism for the housing can accommodate individuals with, or without, private means.  This implies some relationship with at least one local authority.


Laurence Demarco – May 2011