Back-up land is essential to the commoning way of life. It provides land for extra winter grazing and also a supply of fodder for the livestock.
Over recent years, the increasing cost of grazing land has made it difficult for commoners to be able to purchase or rent the land they need to support their commoning activities. This has particularly affected younger commoners within the New Forest.
In 2012, a group of Forest organisations (the New Forest National Park Authority, New Forest Trust, National Trust, Verderers, Commoners Defence Association, New Forest Association, New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust) joined forces to discuss the issue of back-up grazing in the Forest and specifically the imminent sale of Rockford Farm, one of the remaining few vernacular commoners’ holdings within the New Forest.
One of the results of the partnership discussions was the purchase of 15.78 acres of Rockford Farm by Hampshire County Council. This land will help to support the future of commoning, with the long term management of the land passing over to one of the New Forest organisations with its in-depth understanding of the needs of commoners and commoning. A long-term plan for the site is being discussed and developed at present but for now, the land has been let to a local commoner for grazing.