Farmstarter Profile – Caroline Ward
Kindling’s Farmstart is the UK’s first and only incubator farm – creating a supported route into organic farming for brand new growers. Caroline describes why she signed up and what it’s meant for her.
“Just over a year ago, I enrolled on an online course on sustainability as I wanted to make more informed choices in the context of climate change. As part of the course I made a film about 'Feeding Cities' sustainably and locally. I interviewed Rob, a local organic farmer and visited Unicorn Grocery, the independent supermarket which the farm supplies.
I then made another film, Everyday Growing Futures, which was about gaining access to land. Kindling was a partner in the project and I found out more about what they do. I liked what I found, and an impossible idea – organic farming - suddenly became possible.
This year, I've grown purple sprouting broccoli, lettuces, shallots on 0.25 acres of FarmStart land, all ready to be sold this summer. It's been quite a journey already. This is all about creating a better world.
It's hard to put into words the feeling of seeing my lettuces on the shelf at a local grocery (Unicorn). I had a big smile knowing that my first crops have entered the organic farming system – I have a product and its come from a responsible way of farming with little, if any, negative impact on the environment.
This has all been made possible by Kindling Trust’s FarmStart programme. I joined the programme with amateur growing experience, no background in farming or family links, no experience of official organic standards and no capital to buy a field, let alone everything else that a farm needs to run.
The FarmStart programme allowed me to channel my passion and values and to take risks, while introducing me to the world of preparing, growing, distributing and selling food. For me, this is the right route to farming. Going to college or doing a placement wouldn’t have had quite the same effect.
Just to add, it had to be organic, I wouldn’t have considered farming in any other way.
With another growing season ahead of me, I’m in a place I couldn’t have imagined a year ago. I’m already thinking about what I might do next after FarmStart."