Last summer Farming the Future supported the Kindling Trust and Veg Box People to respond to the challenges brought about by the national pandemic.
“As for many, the impact of lockdown was sudden and significant. It meant restaurant customers - and therefore most of our veg bag collection points - closed overnight. Initially, it also meant Kindling having to close well being and community engagement activities and postpone our community shares campaign to buy a farm, planned for spring 2020”.
Helen Woodcock, co-founder of Kindling Farm
Nine months on and not only are they delivering lovely organic food to hundreds of people across Greater Manchester, but they have launched their most exciting and ambitious project yet: Kindling Farm - and they would love you to get involved in whatever way you can.
Who's behind Kindling Farm?
For over a decade the Kindling Trust, working with co-operatives Manchester Veg People and Veg Box People, have been working to challenge and create a better food system in the Northwest. Through a series of practical initiatives, they train up a new generation of farmers to farm in a way that tackles the climate and biodiversity crisis we are facing, create fairer markets to make food production a viable livelihood and increase access to fresh, organic produce for all.
Kindling Farm is about building on this work and scaling up the impact it can have. Kindling Farm will use the pioneering practices of agroforestry to grow wildlife-friendly fruit, veg, cereals and pulses to provide the citizens of Greater Manchester and beyond with fresh, organic produce.
“Kindling Farm is our response to an industrialised and unsustainable food system, a way of saying we can not do this any more and we don’t have to. Kindling Farm is about growing food, but it is also about growing hope. It is about creating a food economy rooted in fairness and sustainability; one that values the farmers and producers of our food, respects and nurtures the land and wildlife, and puts the health and well-being of our communities at its heart.“
Already Kindling has begun establishing the agroforestry system for the farm, which they are really excited about. Thanks to a grant through the Green Recovery Challenge, they are grafting and planting 12,000 heritage fruit trees over the next year - half of which are destined for the farm itself. As part of this project, they are running a series of fruit tree grafting workshops so that others can benefit from learning these skills and getting a heritage fruit tree to take home or plant out in local community orchards.
Community ownership is a key part of Kindling Farm, not only because it will make it possible to buy and establish a farm, but because it is a way of engaging more people in building a better food system.
“Our Community Share Offer is about establishing a farm owned by its community and that’s really important to us because we need to come together to find practical solutions to the ecological crisis we are in. Kindling Farm is about hope, it is about social change and it is about creating a farming blueprint for our future, right here in the Northwest of England. Helen Woodcock
The community shares campaign to buy a 120-acre farm on the outskirts of Manchester went live on the 3rd of April and at the time of writing had already raised over £300,000 - just under halfway to their target. Kindling had a huge response from people on the day of the launch and the momentum has really kept up. They have now got over 150 investors in Kindling Farm, so are well on their way to making this a reality. From now until the 3rd of July anyone can become a community shareholder in this pioneering farm, and help them to raise between £390,000 and £650,000.
“We are aware that not everyone has £200 to invest, especially in these uncertain times, so we are also encouraging people to get together and invest as a group, be that a family, friends or youth group. But there are lots of other ways to get involved in Kindling Farm, be that spreading the word or coming and grafting a tree with us. What is most important isn’t that you invest, but that you feel part of changing the food system for the better. And however, you get involved we very much look forward to meeting you at the farm one day soon.” Helen Woodcock
When lockdown first happened the Kindling team decided that it wasn’t the right time to launch their community shares campaign. With all the uncertainty around they felt that their resources would be better used focusing on producing as much food as they could and distributing it to the people who needed it most, which they did with the support of Farming the Future.
Nine months on it now seems that their community shares campaign couldn’t have come at a better time. The impacts of Covid on the wellbeing of our society has shown us that we need to support communities more than ever and improve the food system upon which we all rely. Resilient methods of farming, democratised local food systems, and greater access to healthy produce is what the future of food needs to look like, and Kindling Farm is set to be a huge part of that.
To invest visit https://ethex.org.uk/invest/kindling-farm. To learn more about what Kindling Trust is doing, visit their website kindling.org.uk. For any and all enquiries, please email email@example.com.