Kindling's long term vision is to create a rural base within 50 miles of Manchester which will include a farm, Eco-housing, a Social Enterprise Hub and a Centre for Social Change. There, building on our existing projects, we aim to create models for:
Our current model of production is unsustainable. Intensive agriculture is one the leading causes of global biodiversity loss, creates water pollution and soil depletion, relies on low animal welfare standards, causes consumer health issues and is a huge factor in climate change. On a global scale, agriculture and other trade in commodities is further linked to land rights issues, deforestation, extreme poverty and global conflict.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) demonstrated many years ago that organic agriculture could provide sufficient nutrition for the world population (FAO, International conference on Organic Agriculture and Food Security, Italy, 2007). And successive UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food have agreed. In 2014 the current Rapporteur stated that industrial agriculture has had its day, due to the impacts of overlapping environmental and ecological crises linked to land, water and resource availability and that small farmers practising agoecological methods are the future (International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition, Rome, September 2014).
In the UK, although still proportionally low, organic sales are once again on the increase, especially outside the supermarkets, and younger people are the key to growth, signalling increased demand with successive generations (Organic Market Report 2014, Soil Association). But historically low levels of government support for small-scale organic producers, unrealistically low farm gate prices and the high cost of land means that organic farming, especially on a small scale and in particular for new entrants, is a very tough business.
We are working hard to develop einding enterprising solutions that take back control of the food system and make it possible for sustainable production to benefit both consumers AND producers. Based on our experience of developing and supporting Manchester Veg People, we believe that a true alternative to our current food system is viable through supply chain co-operatives, but we need more sustainable producers and greater co-operation to make this happen.
• Create a Social Enterprise Hub – providing land, workshop space and equipment at supportive rates, as well as access to business support and advice to help establish progressive social enterprises, co-operatives and small local businesses.
• Building on the success of FarmStart we will create a new branch of our incubator farm for new entrants into organic farming. Additionally, we’ll be able to offer the next stage of support involving access to affordable land and shared equipment for people who have been through the FarmStart programme.
• Facilitate access to markets using the infrastructure we have helped put in place with Manchester Veg People (MVP). We will provide shared distribution and crop planning with other Kindling and MVP growers to increase the variety and consistency of crops available locally.
• Research and demonstrate sustainable land use; researching and using organic, low energy production methods and crop diversification to increase local resilience in the face of climate change. For example we will research commercial production of regional heritage crops, suited to our local conditions and in demand from MVP restaurants.