A Wellcome sale of Co-op farms

The Borders harvest is underway
The Borders harvest is underway

Co-op farms, including Whitsome Hill in Berwickshire, have been sold to the Wellcome Trust after being put on the market in February this year.

It has been reported that all 250 employees will transfer to the Wellcome Trust with immediate effect following the £249 million deal.

The Co-op contract farmed land on behalf of several clients in the Borders region and Whitsome Hill as its Borders office base.

It also ran its ‘From Farm to Fork’ operation - inviting schoolchildren onto farms to learn about where their food comes from - from the Hirsel Estate at Coldstream, and the Wellcome Trust has pledged to maintain Co-op’s existing services including the ‘From Farm to Fork’ educational programme.

The business has been sold as a going concern, preserving the tenancy and contract farming activities which covered about 60% of the farmed acreage when news of the planned sale was announced in February.

The sale includes 15,997ha (39,533 acres) of freehold and third party owned land, 15 farms, three packhouses, more than 100 residential properties and 27 commercial properties.

“The Co-operative is pleased to have found a buyer that will continue to invest in and develop the farms business, while maintaining existing services for local communities, such as the pioneering educational programme for children – Farm to Fork,” said a statement.

The Wellcome Trust is the world’s second highest-spending charitable foundation, focussing on improvements in human and animal health, spending more than £700m a year supporting biomedical research.