Costessey was once home to a large arable and animal livestock farm called Home Farm, made up of most of the farm land in the area. Many of the local families were tenants to the estate and worked for it in some capacity.
In the early 20th century, the family that had run this large estate for generations, sold up the majority of the land which today is made up of individual grazing and arable smallholdings, one or two larger farm plots and new housing areas.
One of those arable plots lays deep in the heart of the Tud Valley. Spanning just over four acres in size and surrounded on one side by the River Tud, woodland and other farmland on the others, this site would eventually become Longwater Community Farm, but since the 1920's was run as a smallholding by a private freehold farmer, providing vegetables and meat to the local population, right through the second world war.
In the 1970s, a young local man took the plunge and went shares in this smallholding with the old farmer who was looking to retire. This young man was Paul Goodall; skilled builder, carpenter and tradesman with a wealth of experience behind him from working all over the UK in all sorts of trades; from the coal mines in northern England, to working on pylons in the west country, and from to laying infrastructure around London, to building houses and restoring old buildings in Norfolk.
With an incredible determination and work ethic, Paul set about learning the pig farming trade from the old farmer in addition to his full time employment. Within a few years the farmer retired and Paul was joined in this venture by his brother John, and together they built up a successful smallholding. Throughout their many years working together, the farm was host to pigs, cattle, horses and poultry. When, in 1994, John passed away, he continued with the smallholding alone.
Norwich was once at the centre of a great agricultural tradition in the region since the 1700's. But the evolution of agriculture throughout the UK since the end of the second world war meant that it had become increasing difficult to survive as a smallholding. The continuous closure of the many local cattle markets that once played such an important part in Norwich life made trading much more difficult.
The quarantines placed upon uninfected stock with the swine fever outbreaks in the late 1990's and 2000 had a huge negative impact on many smallholders in the area; with inadequate compensation and support systems in place by governments for smallholders who were most severely hit by the changes and the outbreaks, smallholdings such as Pauls, started to disappear. Despite the new and constant obstacles he faced, Pauls determination never wavered, and he continued to farm in the Tud Valley until he retired in 2004.
This incredibly hard working and conscientious man was the founder of Longwater Community Farm's Grandfather, and was a constant presence, inspiration and source of knowledge in the first two years of the new community farms development and planning. Pauls death in 2016 had a huge impact on everyone involved with the community farm, and he is honoured and remembered for his love of nature, farming and fresh air. Through spending time with the people involved in the farm, telling his stories, sharing and challenging ideas and taking long countryside walks, a seed was planted. It continues to grow in an ever evolving sense of responsibility and commitment to work towards creating the best possible model of ethical and sustainable agriculture.
Using the Fiver Year Development plan and getting started in 2013/14 on 2.5 acres (half) of the site, the farm and new team set about clearing the site, tree and hedgerow planting, gaining planning permission to include education activities on the land, establish a local veg box scheme to generate income, get to grips with the first rescue animals, and build a strong relationship with the local and wider Norwich community; its families, businesses,schools, similar groups and charitable organisations.
By the end of the first five year plan, all of these objectives had been achieved in addition to being able to extend the farm site by purchasing the additional 2.5 acres. So by 2018/19 the farm had also won a £10k grant from the Lottery Fund's Awards for All scheme and was able to pilot the first year of events, education sessions and courses with great success and enjoyment.
This bring us up to the present day, 2020, where Longwater Farm is a well established and well tested (as well as constantly tested) model for sustainable and ethical agriculture. The farm exists as part of a community and will continue to develop, learn, and to continue to provide agriculture, social cohesion and healthy living with solutions and positive ways forward.