The Country Trust was established in 1970 by Lance Coates, a businessman (Coates printing ink) and organic farmer from Buckinghamshire.
Lance decided that he wanted to establish a Charitable Trust in order primarily to promote sustainable, organic farming and to champion human health. In 1969, aged 60, he set up The Lance Coates 1969 Trust alongside an operating charity, The Country Trust. The Country Trust as we know it now was formed in February 1978.
Rodney Stanford was employed to run the charity which he did for over 30 years. His wife Jane was a teacher, who saw the opportunity to broaden The Country Trust’s educational remit beyond lectures to key influencers.
She started to visit schools, specifically urban schools in deprived inner city areas and began to take children on farm visits, and residentials (for those schools facing long journeys to the countryside), initially using a network of volunteers. Rodney and Jane persuaded a large network of farmers and estate owners to host visits for inner-city children.
It is this farm visit model, introducing inner-city children to country life by showing them real working farms and estates that has formed the core of The Country Trust’s activities ever since.
The scale and scope of the charity has slowly expanded over the years with Farm in a Box being the most recent programme. However, the willingness of hosts to welcome children to their farms, estates and rural businesses remains of central importance.
The Lance Coates 1969 Trust continues to choose to donate a proportion of its income each year to The Country Trust, and many other generous donors, including the Westminster Foundation, enable the charity to reach tens of thousands of children every year.