September 4, 2014

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Written by Gina Wilson, Senior Projects Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

We are delighted to introduce the five pioneering Growing Livelihoods projects we will be supporting over the next year.

A partnership programme between the Carnegie UK Trust, Plunkett Foundation and the Land Settlement Association Charitable Trust (LSACT), Growing Livelihoods builds on an 80-year history between our organisations. We have come together with the aim of exploring solutions for developing more viable livelihoods in the smaller-scale food growing sector. Through co-operation and innovation we aim to help create new opportunities for young people, those new to the sector or those seeking a new direction. There will be particular focus on shortening food supply chains and the opportunities this could present.

Here’s why we think it’s needed:

Small-scale grower.

  • There’s a lack of training or clear career pathways for new entrants to smaller-scale food growing – and a rapidly ageing workforce.
  • Little co-ordination of support and resources for smaller-scale food growers.
  • Examples of successful smaller-scale food growing enterprises around the country need to be shared widely.
  • There is optimism about the future of smaller-scale food growers, particularly where co-operative models can be understood and replicated. The community food sector has grown significantly over the last decade.

Our five projects:

FarmStart Manchester, Greater Manchester @kindlingtrust
FarmStart Manchester started in April 2013 as the UK’s first incubator farm for new growers to trial their farming business ideas in a low-risk setting. People can rent a small enough area of land to farm part-time (so they can generate an income through other means), but big enough to experience field scale farming while being supported with training, mentoring, tools and access to market. Over the year, they will develop a comprehensive training programme that can be used by others, host a conference and provide support to interested groups and produce an online manual describing how FarmStart Manchester was set up.

Ferry Farm, East Anglia
Katie Bliss, “Our family farm started with my Great Grandfather on one acre; as more and more small and medium sized farms disappear, we can see it is harder for small-scale growers to get access to land. We would like to create opportunities for entrepreneurial new growers to get access to land on fair leases. We look forward to exploring how we can make this happen on our family farm and share our lessons with others.” The feasibility study will engage key stakeholders in order to design an appropriate model to pilot in the 2016 growing season.

Sutton Food Growing Business Incubator, Greater London @SuttonFarm
Centred around the unique opportunities in growing food on an urban fringe. New entrants will become members of Sutton Community Farm and can test out their ideas and market through collaboration. Sutton Community Farm will provide equipment, mentoring and peer-support, access to market and polytunnel growing space. Samuel Smith, Managing Director, Sutton Community Farm “We are delighted to have support from Growing Livelihoods to launch a co-operative Food Growing Business Incubator, an innovative way to support new entrants into farming, that would not otherwise have the opportunity.”

The Severn Project CIC, Bristol @severnproject
The Severn Project’s urban farms produce and supply quality salad across Bristol and beyond and are run by passionate individuals with track records in helping people from socially excluded groups, such as those recovering from substance misuse, with poor mental health or offending backgrounds. Over the coming year they will be working to develop an improved engagement offer to apprentices, an empowering hub for satellite growers and increased revenue through production, processing and distribution.

Birr Community Growery, Co. Offaly, Ireland
Building on the established Birr Tidy Towns initiative, Birr Community Growery will be established and act as a Community Food Hub hosting a variety of activities, programs, and services. A formal participatory structure will be explored and developed and access to land confirmed, to deliver this. A local food distribution model, Biabox, will be established. Support will be given to new and existing food producers to enable them to get their product to market locally. Education and training courses will be provided at the Growery and allotment site, and via the Tidy Towns model.

We’ll be posting regularly about the progress of the projects, to stay up to date follow #growinglivelihoods @Gina_Wilson_