If you would like to offer feedback on the Toolkit, please click here.

Introduction toNature Markets Assessing landopportunities Working withother farmers Baselining,planning andmeasuring Workingwith buyers Farm businessplanning Liability & riskmanagement Using repayablefinance Signing legalcontracts Public sectorfunding & policy Tenancy &ownership
  1. Groundwork
  2. Market Engagement
Introduction toNature Markets Assessing landopportunities Working withother farmers Baselining,planning andmeasuring Workingwith buyers Farm businessplanning Liability & riskmanagement Using repayablefinance Signing legalcontracts Public sectorfunding & policy Tenancy &ownership
  1. Groundwork
  2. Market Engagement

Summary of the Green Farm Collective

The Green Farm Collective, initiated by Tim Parton and three other Soil Farmer of the Year recipients, brings together farmers committed to regenerative practices to share knowledge and market their agricultural products and natural capital assets. Members operate net-zero farming businesses, employ regenerative techniques like cover cropping, and showcase high soil health. Through partnerships with Trinity AgTech, the Collective facilitates carbon monitoring and sales, while also selling voluntary biodiversity plots to socially responsible companies and individuals.


Farm Profile:

  • Location: Across UK
  • Size of Land: various
  • Farm sizes: various
  • Tenancy & Ownership: Both
  • Nature Market Focus: soil carbon & voluntary biodiversity
  • Interventions : reduced synthetic inputs, cover crops, minimum tillage, habitat creation
  • Project Partners: Trinity AgTech


What do I need to know about nature markets to begin with?


This section of the Toolkit provides a brief overview of nature markets in England and how they relate to farmers. It is designed to answer some of the early questions that farmers may have around nature markets. All Toolkit content, including this Introductory section, will be updated regularly.


What market opportunities are available to me based on my land and goals?


This milestone will guide you through an initial assessment of your land as you determine what your broad vision is in relation to nature and help you to identify what opportunities might be available to you to attract private sector finance.

The actions taken at this stage can be taken before you’ve made the firm decision to engage in nature markets. The considerations presented in this milestone will help you determine whether nature market participation makes sense for your goals, the condition of your natural capital and your farming business.

You can also apply many of these considerations to develop a broader vision around your natural capital and other potential funding sources – such as government grant schemes or philanthropic funding.


Will I need to partner with other farmers, and if so, how?


Once you have a vision for your farm, the environmental enhancements or changes you want to make and a sense of the related income opportunities, you may want to consider joining up with other farmers in your area to implement your outcomes at scale to attract buyers.

Aggregation models, often started among farmer clusters or as farmer cooperatives, bring together multiple farmers or landowners to collectively participate in nature markets. These models aim to harness the combined efforts and resources of farmers to maximise environmental benefits and economic opportunities. This section will introduce the factors that may influence your decision to join up with other farmers and some of the key considerations to keep in mind when setting up and participating in such a group.


How do I measure the environmental outcomes that I can produce in a robust way?


At this stage you will have developed an overarching vision for your land and a rough plan for what you want to improve. You will now want to make robust baseline measurements of the condition of your land and develop a detailed plan for interventions and intended outcomes. Plans will also include how you intend to maintain your interventions, measure the impact you are having and verify your outcomes in order to sell them.


How should I identify and approach buyers for my outcomes?


During your initial project scoping, you may have identified potential buyers of the environmental outcomes you are planning to deliver. Now that you have a project plan and a robust baseline, you will be ready to approach and engage buyers more formally.

Buyers will vary in their expectations and requirements. This milestone will help you prepare for initial conversations with potential buyers to ensure you are empowered to ask the right questions and present a project that will attract a fair price. Your buyers may be within your own supply chain such as retailers and businesses, or organisations who benefit directly from your ecosystem services such as water companies or firms who seek to offset their own environmental impacts.


How would this project fit in with my current farming business model?


Nature market projects are often just one part of a farmer’s wider business. Some people compare building nature market projects to developing ‘micro businesses’ for the farm. As such, much of the content you see here will be familiar to you.

However, these projects also have key features that separate them from the businesses that farmers usually engage in. For example, the longer timeframes associated and the current uncertainties relating to how nature market projects (and the deals that result) can be blended with government schemes.

Below is a list of questions that will help you think through how to incorporate these projects into your current farm business plan. This includes considerations on building a cashflow or partial budget, but also the less quantifiable factors, such as the potential drawbacks and opportunities to your wider farm that nature markets present.


What kind of risks should I be aware of and how can I manage them?


Like with any aspect of a farm business, risk management is critical – especially for nature market projects that can run over several years. As the landholder, you may be leading the development of the project, be part of a wider group of farmers, or be working with a third-party project developer that is taking the majority of the risk.

In any case, it’s advisable to have a clear understanding of the likelihood of the risks involved, what will happen if the risk materialises, what you as the landholder might be liable for, and how the risk is being managed to prevent this liability.

This Milestone sets out the different types of risks that nature market projects (and the deals that result from them) often carry. The last section covers the types of legal entities that farmers might form, as these can help to manage certain risks and benefit the overall operations of the project.


Is it possible to use repayable finance upfront to meet any of the costs?


Repayable finance from investors – typically debt or equity – is not always necessary in nature markets if upfront costs can be met by the buyer or through grants.

It’s also important to note that, even when repayable finance is needed, farmers do not necessarily have to secure this themselves.

In the UK, there are very few examples of individual farmers taking out loans and no examples of farmers issuing shares to use specifically to finance a nature market project. Typically, the upfront capital required is organised by a third party – for example, a third-party project developer, a broker etc.

However, as nature markets develop further, and in the case of larger farms, there is potential for farmers to secure repayable finance and meet up-front costs, as with other parts of their business.

The below therefore sets out some questions that farmers (and, more likely, third party project developers) could ask themselves to secure repayable finance from lenders and investors, whether that’s taking on finance independently, or as part of a larger group or partnership.


What do I need to be aware of when signing contracts?


This Milestone is about the legal contracts you will use and sign to officially commit to the project and transition it to a fully fledged deal. As business owners, farmers are familiar with contracts and understand the need to carefully review the details before signing any such agreements.

Any nature market deal is likely to involve legal agreements that will be tailored to each set of circumstances. However, for ease this Milestone sets out what contract set-ups are used in this space, common contract types, and other key considerations to ask yourself at this stage.

Disclaimer: The information in this Milestone does not constitute any form of legal advice but instead serves as practical advice that has been written by speaking with lawyers, farmers and other practitioners. We recommend that appropriate legal advice should be taken from a qualified solicitor before taking or refraining from any action relating to your contracts and projects.


Can I participate on tenanted land?


The tenancy and ownership structure of land can have significant implications for farmers engaging in nature markets in the UK. The rights of tenants in relation to nature markets is still not entirely clear in the UK and may differ on a case by case basis. Below are some key considerations which can help both tenants and landlords in asking the right questions when considering engaging in nature markets as policy and legal frameworks develop. Further guidance prepared by the Tenant Farmers Association and the Country, Land and Business Association can be found here. 


How do public sector funding and policy align with nature markets?


In England, the role of public funding and support to farmers is undergoing change on a scale not seen in decades. The government hopes to strengthen the link between environmental and farming practices to meet its climate and nature restoration targets, while maintaining food security and the viability of farm businesses across the country.

This section offers a summary of how government is working with farmers to access nature markets, and provides guidance on:


  • How nature markets might work with public subsidy schemes,
  • What development funding is available for farmers to explore their opportunities,
  • What ‘market infrastructure’ the government is supporting – including Standards and Codes.



We have separated out these Milestones into ‘Groundwork’ and ‘Market Engagement’ to indicate which Milestones you will want to read as you consider and/or prepare for nature markets (Groundwork) and those you will move through if and when you decide to become a seller of environmental outcomes (Market Engagement).  

We recommend all farmers read through the Groundwork Milestones in addition to the Introduction to Nature Markets in order to understand better whether nature markets are for them, and how they can, at the very least, explore and baseline their farms so they are ready for any opportunities that may arise later.  

Market Engagement


We have separated out these Milestones into ‘Groundwork’ and ‘Market Engagement’ to indicate which Milestones you will want to read as you consider and/or prepare for nature markets (Groundwork) and those you will move through if and when you decide to become a seller of environmental outcomes (Market Engagement).  

We recommend all farmers read through the Groundwork Milestones in addition to the Introduction to Nature Markets in order to understand better whether nature markets are for them, and how they can, at the very least, explore and baseline their farms so they are ready for any opportunities that may arise later.  



With many thanks for their time and insight on this case study:

Tim Parton, Farm Manager and Co-Founder, Green Farm Collective





Date published: 28/02/2024

Next Milestone

Key Takeaways

  • The Green Farm Collective serves as a platform for knowledge exchange, networking, and accessing nature markets for farmers committed to regenerative practices.
  • The Collective works directly with Trinity AgTech, using their natural capital monitoring tool Sandy to baseline and monitor the environmental condition of member farms. Farmers receive a discount on the tool in return for membership. The Collective also works with Trinity Natural Capital Markets to sell soil carbon from member farms.
  • The Green Farm Collective sells its biodiversity on a voluntary basis, to companies focused on corporate social responsibility and to individuals interested in supporting nature recovery
  • The Collective has specific criteria for membership, including operating net-zero farming businesses, employing regenerative farming practices, and demonstrating high soil health
  • The Collective is funded through subscription fees from members and a percentage of transaction revenues, including those from labelled products, carbon, and biodiversity sales.



What is Tim Parton’s approach to farming?

Tim Parton, a farmer based near Wolverhampton, has been at the forefront of embracing nature-friendly farming practices. On his 300-hectare farm, Tim produces a wide variety of crops including wheat, oilseed rape, spring malting barley, spring beans, spring lupines and spring oats. Motivated by a commitment to biological farming, Tim abstains from using synthetic inputs like fungicides, herbicides, growth regulators, or insecticides. Instead, he employs holistic methods, prominently featuring cover crops across his farm throughout the year. This approach has not only improved soil health and crop quality but also led to a resurgence of biodiversity on his farm, including a noticeable return of various bird species.

For Tim, promoting this nature-friendly farming approach goes beyond personal philosophy; it’s about aligning agricultural practices with environmental sustainability and resilience. He views nature markets as a pivotal tool for incentivising farmers to adopt such practices while contributing to broader environmental objectives.


How did the Green Farm Collective start and how does it work?

In 2021, Tim, along with three other former Soil Farmer of the Year Award recipients, established the Green Farm Collective (GFC). The farmers aimed to address the lack of awareness and support for regenerative farming practices within the agricultural community. Beyond a platform for knowledge exchange, the Collective evolved into a robust network, a trusted brand for regeneratively farmed products, and a gateway for farmers to access nature markets.

To join the Collective, farmers must operate net-zero farming businesses, possess certified credentials for their farm’s natural capital, be employing regenerative farming practices, such as cover cropping and limiting the use of synthetic inputs and demonstrate high soil health. Farmers who are still working toward these objectives can also engage with the Collective and Trinity AgTech to transition their practices and improve their soil health with the aim of eventually becoming a full member. In return, members are able to sell their agricultural products under the Green Farm Collective label and can sell their carbon and biodiversity through Trinity Natural Capital Markets (NCM). Membership to the collective also offers a discount on Trinity AgTech’s natural capital assessment tool Sandy, which helps farmers to monitor the impacts of their practices and certify their carbon units.


How is the group structured and funded?

The Collective comprises the four founding members along with over 30 associate members as of February 2024. The Collective sustains its activities through subscription fees from members (£250 per year for farm businesses)  and a percentage of transaction revenues (5% for GFC and 5% for Trinity NCM), including those from GFC labelled products, carbon and biodiversity. The Collective collaborates with Trinity AgTech to assess and monitor carbon levels on member farms, allowing farmers to either sell their carbon units or retain them for offsetting their own emissions and they can sell through Trinity NCM or through another platform of their choosing.

Much of the Collective’s biodiversity is sold to companies focused on corporate social responsibility. This means that the biodiversity is sold on a voluntary basis, in contrast to Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) which is a compliance market and for which units needs to be verified through Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric. GFC biodiversity is sold in 3m2 plots through Trinity NCM to companies or individuals interested in supporting local nature recovery. The group is however exploring supporting its members with BNG trades, and Trinity AgTech’s Sandy tool can be used to conduct BNG baselining and monitoring.

The Green Farm Collective has successfully garnered high prices for its carbon credits, particularly when they bundle carbon with biodiversity uplift. Thus far the Collective has commanded £100 per tonne of carbon sequestered. Tim sees their ability to command above market prices as being tied to the narrative surrounding the group’s natural capital assets. For example, when Tim sold some biodiversity units to a local flooring company, the company’s representatives came out to the farm directly to see the wildflower meadows and cover crops that their payments had facilitated. The company then made a video on the project which they could share with their customers, demonstrating the tangible impact they were having on the local environment. Having the option to visit the sites where biodiversity and carbon are being generated can be really attractive to buyers who are interested in generating local impact.



Lessons Learned

Tim notes that embarking on this journey is hard work and so there is huge benefit in farmers coming together to support each other and collectively drive change. In coming together, farmers can begin to demand higher prices for their products and advocate for the policy and support mechanisms they need to deliver. Tim views farmers as “the heroes of the world, because nobody else can feed the world and heal the world”.



Farming Toolkit Question

This question below is purely to understand what stakeholder groups are using the Farming Toolkit and to help assess its impact. No identifiable information or contact details are being recorded.

"*" indicates required fields

I am a...*

Please tick all that apply to you.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.