Manchester Veg People is a pioneering co-operative of local organic growers, buyers (restaurants/cafes, caterers and the public sector), and workers - collaborating to provide fresh, seasonal food of the highest possible quality for Greater Manchester.
Manchester Veg People is different from a wholesaler in that growers work with the buyers to plan their crops according to demand. So produce is grown especially for the buyers, and is harvested to order – which means it's much fresher than produce that has been in transit and in storage for a number of days. It also provides a more stable way of working for the growers, who know they have a market for their produce, and will be paid fairly for it.
The aim of Manchester Veg People is to bring together producers and buyers, to increase understanding and therefore fairness in the food supply chain - making small-scale organic production a viable livelihood.
First trading in 2011, Manchester Veg People has grown from four growers and two buyers, to eight growers and forty (plus) buyers, as well as doubling its turnover in 2014/15.
We believe that this increase in turnover not only demonstrates demand for the produce, but also support for this different and exciting way of working – as a co-op involving the growers, buyers and workers as the members, all with a say in how the enterprise in run.
We at Kindling were involved in setting up Manchester Veg People, have helped to bring on new buyer members such as The University of Manchester, and continue to support the co-op, as part of our aim to try to create a fairer and more sustainable food system.
"From a grower's perspective the Kindling Trust is there for us. In the setting up of MVP, Kindling helped to put strong foundations in place, helping with market research and development of the initial marketing and especially with putting together the coop structure. MVP is a unique cooperative and therefore needs a unique approach. It is not an out-of-the-box business but an entirely new way of doing business which requires a lot of learning on the job and strategising. The Kindling Trust is still quite involved during these challenging, early years of the business, providing us with a solid and dependable resource whenever we need it."
Alan Creedon, Glebelands City Growers (MVP Grower-Member)
We don’t believe that we can bring about the changes needed by tinkering around the edges of the current environmentally damaging and socially unjust mainstream system, but that we have to create a new one that works for everyone.
We need a food system that pays the true costs of production to growers (who are some of the lowest paid people in the food supply chain), and shares the risks of food production, whilst making good sustainable food accessible to everyone.
To this end Kindling have supported Manchester Veg People to work with the public sector - trying to get local organic veg on school, hospital and care home menus through the Sustainable Menu pilot project. We are also helping to grow more grower members through our incubator farm and training programme - FarmStart and our commercial veg growing courses.
To ask about buying from or supplying to Manchester Veg People please visit their dedicated website: http://www.vegpeople.org.uk/