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FARM THAT INSPIRED 'AN EVERYDAY STORY OF COUNTRY FOLK' Archers' fans now have the chance to buy a stake in...

Byline: EXCLUSIVE AMARDEEP BASSEY Special Correspondent

FANS of the world's longest running radio soap The Archers are being offered the chance to buy a stake in the Midland farm that inspired the series.

Owners of the eco-friendly Rush Farm in Worcestershire are inviting the public to invest in a PS700,000 community share offer.

Episodes of the popular BBC Radio 4 rural drama, originally billed as "an everyday story of country folk," were recorded there in the 1950s.

The programme's creator, Godfrey Basely, was a friend of the farm owners and regularly wrote scripts in their kitchen, too.

It is the second chance to buy shares in the biodynamic farm after the former owners decided they wanted to avoid "inheritance issues" by preserving it for the whole community's future generations.

The farm said the funds were needed to add 35 acres of farmland - currently leased and still in private ownership - to another 150 acres bought in a similar share offer last year.

Sebastian Parsons, who used to own the site with his two sisters, said: "We bought Rush Farm in 2005 and turned it into an organic sustainable business that is in tune with the wider natural ecosystem.

"The family always took a longterm view in wanting to maintain the high standards at the farm, and we didn't want to later get bogged down with inheritance issues amongst our children.

"So we gradually transferred the farm we love into community ownership to preserve it as a showcase of sustainable ecofriendly farming forever.

"It's a chance for people to invest with their head and heart as investors should expect to get a five per cent return on their money."

The farm has a breeding flock of 200 sheep, 30 pure-bred Hereford cattle and also produces 30 acres of cereals.

"We also have a business park on site which employs 100 people involved in chocolate-making to classic cars," said Mr Parsons "The financial return comes from the park's rental income and we hope to invest half of the investment money for renewable energy to heat the park in an environmentally friendly way.

"All our investors will be joint owners and we welcome the chance to show them the impact their money is making when we open our doors for lambing days, summer fetes and other events."

The Archers is the world's longest running soap opera and is recorded in studios at BBC Birmingham. Its pilot episode aired in 1950 and at its peak the series attracted more than 11 million listeners.

Famous people who have made cameo appearances include Princess Anne, the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles and, in more recent times, Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins.

Anyone interested in investing in the Stockwood Community Benefit Society, as the project is called, can find further details at www.stockwoodcbs.org. The minimum investment is PS100 and maximum is PS100,000, with shares available until November 30.

CAPTION(S):

Dan, Christine and Doris Archer pictured around the hearth at Rush Farm for an edition of the |Radio Times in 1951. Top, former owner of the farm Sebastian Parsons and views of the farm

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 11, 2015
Words:520
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