Kindling is helping develop a new urban growing hub in Stockport, bringing together inclusive community gardening with commercial organic food production. It’s an innovative partnership that has huge potential, both for local community development and for the rejuvenation of a local food system for Greater Manchester. It’s also providing Kindling with a brand new, second FarmStart site!
Kindling’s Chris explains - “The facilities at Woodbank, the partners and the ambition could be a game changer in the way food is grown in Stockport and across Greater Manchester. We have a powerful partnership of trainers, enterpeneurs, community groups and the public sector which creates a strong foundation for a one-stop-shop for all things ‘urban agricultural’.”
The Woodbank Park partnership is transforming a 3.5 acre partly derelict site in the heart of urban Stockport into an inclusive hub for sustainable urban agriculture. It will continue to be the base for a number of community gardening groups but in addition, over the next two years the site will be transformed to bring commercial growing partners into the mix. The blend of commercial and community uses will not only help make the site financially viable, but also provides a realistic pathway for local people who wish to progress from amateur to commercial veg growing.
The site is the size of one and a half full-sized football pitches, and includes a massive eight vast polytunnels for under-cover growing (some need a bit of work). Our Feeding Stockport co-ordinator Jemma is extremely excited about the potential!
“The hub will be a dynamic facility offering training from basic horticulture skills and beekeeping right through to commercial market gardening. Whatever your interest - volunteering, training or support - we aim to offer something for everyone”.
Existing community groups on the site include Stockport Together and CASU Green Man who will continue to support volunteers and local residents to develop new skills and improve health and wellbeing through gardening on the site.
Kindling will be building on the past three years’ experience establishing and running FarmStart Manchester, by taking on a large polytunnel to establish our second farmer incubator site, providing more people with a supported route into commercial organic growing. And to compliment this, Glebelands City Growers, a three-person workers co-operative running a thriving organic market garden in Sale, are adopting two large polytunnels to greatly expand their commercial production of salad and herbs.
Chris hopes that the site will help establish brand new urban growers to supply food to Stockport and Greater Manchester. “On one site, residents will be able to see and be part of a natural progress of volunteering and starting out as an amateur gardener, receive support and training, take on land to grow their experience and ultimately create a livelihood by selling fresh food they’ve grown through our distribution co-op: Manchester Veg People”.
This ambitious project has 16 different stakeholders and is led by Stockport Council and Feeding Stockport (part of the Kindling Trust). It’s been made possible through the work of Feeding Stockport and the willingness of Stockport Council to work towards becoming a Sustainable Food City.
Help us transform this site into a buoyant growing facility at the heart of the community! Throughout the rest of this year we will be organising lots of Land Army missions to Woodbank to clear and prepare our polytunnles for next year's growing season. There’s a lot of work to do! Later in 2015 we will be recruiting local Stockport residents to join Kindling’s commercial horticulture course and join the FarmStart programme. And in early 2016 we hope half-a-dozen Stockport residents will start their life enhancing journey into urban agriculture and once again start growing food in Stockport, for the people of Stockport. If you'd like to get involved in Kindling's work on the site, or to find out more, email Corrina@kindling.org.uk. We'll also be adding a new page to our website soon to keep you updated.