The Land Settlement Association was a government-supported initiative, founded in 1934 at the height of the depression under the auspices of the Society of Friends and the Carnegie Trust. It was established “to carry out an experimental scheme, with financial assistance from the Government, for the provision of rural small-holdings for unemployed persons from the industrialised cities”. Men and their families from the depressed mining and shipbuilding towns were encouraged to settle on estates of smallholdings. Posters and pamphlets were distributed through employment exchanges inviting men to apply and applicants were vetted for suitability to the rural life and given a medical examination. When they arrived on an estate they were given the necessary training in livestock and horticultural production. The LSA Ltd was registered on 24th Nov 1934 probably under the The Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Act 1928 with registration number 11792R. In May 1935 the LSA became the main agent for rapidly extending the scheme as part of the Government’s Special Areas policy. The initial programme was for the provision of some 2000 smallholdings throughout England and Wales with holdings ranging from 3 to 10 acres, the small ones for horticulture and the larger ones for livestock, particularly pigs. By 1938 there were a total of 1031 let holdings and 75 propagating holdings on 21 estates covering 11,063 acres. 1728 men had been moved to the estates as trainees and tenants, together with about 6,500 wives, children and LSA employees. It was not a success for about half the families, but by 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, 850 men remained (400 as tenants). The policy was then changed to accommodate the need for intensive food production and only new tenants with agricultural experience were taken on. Thus, by the end of the War the LSA had become more of a co-operative with centrally co-coordinated skilled production and marketing. In 1947 the LSA was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and, following various reports on the viability of the Association, it was decided that tenants should concentrate on horticulture, so pig production was gradually phased out. A further review in the early 1970s concluded that the estates should concentrate on intensive horticultural production, mainly of salad crops for the large supermarkets.
The LSA show-cased innovations in horticulture and introduced growing under cloches and new products like cherry tomatoes, ‘Little Gem’ lettuce and bagged salads.
In 1983, following yet another review, the LSA was wound up and then finally de-registered on 2nd Jan 1998. The properties were privatized and residual assets used to set up the LSA Charitable Trust for the benefit of former tenants and to promote horticultural education.