Funded Pilot Scheme Looking for Future Food Growers

June 12, 2014

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A new £30k pilot scheme aimed at encouraging enterprise in the food growing industry and providing people across the UK and Ireland with the opportunity to create a sustainable livelihood has been launched.
The joint ‘Growing Livelihoods’ initiative between philanthropic organisation, Carnegie UK Trust, the Plunkett Foundation and the Land Settlement Association Charitable Trust (LSACT), builds on the pioneering 1934 Land Settlement Association scheme. The scheme which ran for a period of 50 years, was a network of smallholdings to provide new entrants, including the long term unemployed, with the opportunity for a career in food growing
The year-long pilot scheme will work to create new opportunities through co-operative approaches and encourage entrepreneurialism in local food growing amongst young people, those looking to try a new career direction and those new to the sector. It will also look to help people to develop skills relevant to running a smaller-scale food growing business.
Kirsty Tait, from the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “We are delighted to launch the Growing Livelihoods pilot scheme this week. As an organisation that was heavily involved in the creation of the Land Settlement Association in the 1930s, we are interested at looking at ways in which this type of approach, which was successful for 50 years, can be developed today.”

Although the community food sector has grown significantly in the last decade, agricultural co-operatives account for less than 10% of the UK market. Despite this, they are a proven farming and growing model and account for more than 40% of EU agriculture.

Mike Perry from the Plunkett Foundation said “We’ve seen how working together was able to improve the livelihoods of small scale food growers with the original Land Settlement Association scheme.  It is exciting that this year we will be working with modern food growers to help them explore how co-operation can help achieve sustainable livelihoods in small scale horticulture.  We would welcome hearing from a range of people telling us how co-operation can work for smaller scale food growers – do get in touch.”
The Growing Livelihoods pilot scheme will provide advice, support and small scale grants over a one year period. To apply to take part in the Growing Livelihoods project or to find out more, please visit
Case Study

Helen Woodcock is one of four founding members of the Kindling Trust, a social enterprise with a focus on sustainable production in the Northwest of England. Last year the Trust launched FarmStart Manchester, the UK’s first farm business incubator project to help make the route into farming easier. Helen said: “There can be some big barriers in place for people looking to start a career in farming, from access to land, building capital and gaining experience from existing farmers. The Growing Livelihood project is a fantastic initiative to help new growers into business and to help guide them on the path to becoming sustainable growers.

“Since the inception of FarmStart, we have welcomed people of all ages and walks of life to learn about farming, with many choosing farming as a new career direction. We hope the Growing Livelihoods project helps encourage a new generation of farmers.”

FarmStart case studies are available upon request.

For further information, or to arrange to speak to a member of the team, please contact Grayling:

Kirsty Anderson, Martin Allen or Rory MacDonald on [email protected] or 0131 226 2363
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The Carnegie UK Trust works to improve the lives of people throughout the UK and Ireland, by changing minds through influencing policy, and by changing lives through innovative practice and partnership work.  The Carnegie UK Trust was established in 1913 by Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Join the conversation- #growinglivelihoods

You can watch a film about the Growing Livelihoods project here


The Plunkett Foundation helps predominantly rural communities to set up and run a range of co-operatives as a way of improving their lives.  These include community shops, co-operative pubs, community food enterprises, farmers co-operatives and co-operative farmer’s markets.  The Foundation was founded in 1919 by the pioneer of agricultural co-operatives, Sir Horace Plunkett.


The LSA was founded in 1934 at the height of the Depression to ‘carry out an experimental scheme for the provision of rural small-holdings for un-emplyed persons from industrial cities.’ The organisation was wound up in 1983, and the LSA CT draws upon its modest residual assets to support objective connected with the Association’s original purpose in production horticulture and co-operative rural enterprise. The Trustees of the LSA Charitable Trust are delighted to be part of a scheme that reflects so strongly the principles on which the original Land Settlement Association was founded, and the rich history of partnership between these organisations.’ Over the 50 year lifespan of the Land Settlement Association scheme, over a thousand families carved out a career as food growers and some co-operative businesses started during this time continue to trade today. The Land Settlement Association became a major force in UK horticulture, pioneering new products familiar today and was responsible for producing 10% of the UK salad crop.