Agriculture is key to a healthy planet and no system of farming does more to protect soil, water and biodiversity than organic. Being an organic grower is an incredibly fulfilling job, nourishing people and planet. But it's also fraught with risk, underpaid, and incredibly hard work! Is it for you??
If you're keen on a career in growing but not not ready to launch yourself into it full-time, spend a year honing your veg growing skills and learn about the business aspects of horticulture with our year-long FarmStart programme at Woodbank Nursery.
FarmStart Woodbank is Kindling’s second farm business incubator. If you’re looking to make a gradual transition from community or allotment growing to commercial production, FarmStart Woodbank offers the perfect opportunity to build up your skills and experiment with organic growing on a larger scale.
Our Woodbank programme is for people who want to focus on increasing their commercial scale growing experience and skills before taking on the additional challenge of setting up their own growing business. The programme involves classroom training covering the key topics for commercial scale organic growing – ranging from building and maintaining soil health, to managing pests and diseases in an organic system to crop planning for a commercial scale. We also get you thinking about the other side of running your own business, from pricing to book keeping to working with volunteers. You then get to put all this into practice by working alongside an experienced grower in the field for the year. This is not only to help you learn more about growing, but to give you a realistic experience of life as a commercial grower, to help you decide if this is for you.
Here’s what a couple of our FarmStart growers had to say last year:
“The scale is the main difference to what we’ve done before. We’re growing enough to actually sell to wholesalers which is exciting. You also have to think about the quality of the product as it has to be sold so that is quite scary!” Jo Payne, 1st year FarmStart grower 2016
“Being a part of FarmStart has shown me the need for diverse community engagement within organic food production. This along with keen observation of the growing site are two things which I believe will stay with me throughout my growing career." Jack Webb, FarmStart Woodbank trainee 2016.
Read our main FarmStart page to find out how it all works.
FarmStart Woodbank is located in the heart of urban Stockport, and is part of Woodbank Nursery, an exciting new urban agriculture hub that’s joining up inclusive community gardening with commercial urban food production.
Farmstart Woodbank is currently a 1½ acre site, with two large polytunnels. We aim for year-round production and specialise in tender crops grown under cover, for example early peas and tomatoes and cucumbers during the summer and salad leaves during the winter. FarmStart Woodbank crop plans with Veg Box People and Manchester Veg People; two not for profit co-operatives aiming to support new growers and increase access to local organic veg for all.
It's located on a site the size of one and a half professional football pitches that’s being transformed by a new partnership of organisations (including us) into a one-stop-shop for urban agriculture. Existing community and therapeutic gardening projects already running at the site have been joined by FarmStart, a programme of community activities and courses, and and commercial growing co-operative Glebelands City Growers, already running a thriving market garden in Sale. On the one site, Stockport residents will be able to progress from beginner volunteers through to skilled urban growers.
Applications for FarmStart are taken each autumn and the deadline for 2018 applications is 19th November. If you're interested in applying for FarmStart Woodbank, please email FarmStart@kindling.org.uk.