FarmStart Abbey Leys is Kindling’s original (and the UK’s first-ever!) farm business incubator, launched in 2013. It's situated on Abbey Leys organic farm, just 15 miles to the south-west of Manchester near Knutsford, with great motorway access to the city. The land is flat and fertile and already certified organic.
If you’re looking to make a gradual transition from community or allotment growing to commercial production, FarmStart offers the perfect opportunity to build up your skills and experiment with organic growing on a larger scale. Read our main FarmStart page to find out how it all works.
Five growers with a wide variety of backgrounds are currently participating in FarmStart Abbey Leys. While FarmStart Woodbank specialises in tender high-input crops, FarmStart Abbey Leys is focused on crops that can be grown without much protection, so the majority of crops produced are staples such as kale, onions and carrots of assorted colours. FarmStart Abbey Ley is a “traditional” growing setting as it is located on the edge of Manchester, providing our FarmStarters with a taste of commercial growers' experience.
"For me, it's all about the soil and the environment. Organic food is so often discussed in the context of health benefits or taste, and these are important, but it's protecting our soils and stewardship of the land – principles which lie at the heart of organic farming – which matter most to me. Becoming a grower at FarmStart has allowed me to play a very hands-on role in these things and it's an amazing thing to be a part of". Corrina, FarmStart participant 2015.
Applications for FarmStart are taken each autumn, and the deadline for 2018 applications is the 20th November 2017. If you're interested in applying, please email FarmStart@kindling.org.uk, specifying whether you are applying for FarmStart Abbey Leys or Woodbank.
If the time is not right for you, we encourage interested folk to spend time over the summer helping out on local organic farms with our Land Army. The next step for budding FarmStarters is to take part in our intensive four-day Commercial Organic Growers Course, taught by Glebelands City Growers and Jenny Griggs of Fir Tree Farm at their sites in Sale and St Helens in the early autumn. Applications for Farmstart places for 2018 will open shortly afterwards.
For anyone interested in urban growing, there's loads to do at Abbey Leys. Even if Farmstart isn’t for you, if you want to get your hands dirty from time to time, just give us a shout! Roles include volunteering on the site, participating in training so get in touch with LandArmy@Kindling.org.uk. We also offer workplace ‘Team Challenge Days’ on the site.