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.
FarmStart Woodbank is located in the heart of urban Stockport, and is part of Woodbank Park, 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 . Whilst FarmStart Abbey Leys is focused on crops suitable for field-scale growing on the rural periphery of the city, Woodbank is aiming for year round production and to 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 increase access to local organic veg for all and to support new growers.
It’s part of 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 mid autumn. If you're interested in applying for FarmStart Woodbank, please email FarmStart@kindling.org.uk.
At other times of year, we encourage interested folk to spend time over the spring and 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 FarmStart Woodbank and at their sites in Sale and St Helens in the autumn.
For anyone interested in urban growing, there is loads to do at Woodbank. Even if Farmstart isn’t for you, if you want to get your hands dirty from time to time, just give us a shout! The transformation that we, local residents and the others partners are seeking to achieve, to turn Woodbank into a thriving community food hub, is huge. So if you fancy being part of it, whether by volunteering on the site, participating in a course, joining the Saturday community growers (or something else!), get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer workplace ‘Team Challenge Days’ on the site.