'Relief and delight' as Jewish eco-farm Sadeh is saved

Jewish Youth Fund, which owns the Kent site, has had a change of heart over its sale


Talia Chain, chief executive of Jewish eco-farm Sadeh, is “relieved and excited” at the lifting of the threat to its future at Skeet Hill House in Kent.

The Jewish Youth Fund, which owns the site, had put it up for sale for £1.5 million, intending to use the proceeds to increase grants to communal youth groups.

But the fund has now taken it off the market and Sadeh will be able to remain at least until the end of its current ten-year lease in March 2028.

Fund vice-chair Philippa Strauss said the property had not been generating income for the charity and it believed the sale could have enabled it to double grants to youth groups.

“We had several offers at various levels, all of which were attractive,” she said.

The fund had hoped to agree purchase with a “particular buyer on the condition that he would get vacant possession, which is quite understandable”.

Sadeh had been “offered help to purchase other land so that they could continue with certainty of ownership” and without the difficulty of having to manage the Grade II-listed manor house which stands on the seven-acre site.

The JC understands that the offer to Sadeh was close to £250,000.

“We had high hopes we could come to a resolution but in the end it didn’t come to anything,” Mrs Strauss added.

The site was originally bought as a retreat for Jewish youth from London’s East End some 80 years ago and for many years was used by youth organisations for residential programmes.

Sadeh converted the manor house into a guest house last year and it was opened by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. He has praised it as an “exceptional facility, creating impactful educational experiences for all, especially young people, helping them to understand the importance of sustainability and care for our environment”.

Ms Chain said she was “relieved, excited and grateful” that the enterprise could carry on with its efforts “to connect the Jewish community with our land-based traditions and getting kids into nature”.

Having put a lot of its work on hold with the uncertainty over the future, it was “now full steam ahead” for its fellowship - its young Jewish environmental leadership programme - and other activities.

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