While many of you know Kindling through our Greater Manchester projects, you may not yet know about our aim to establish the Kindling Farm, Social Enterprise Hub, and Centre for Social Change (see Our Vision).
We started last year with a resolution to focus more on making this aim a physical reality – both building on our Greater Manchester projects, and helping to make those projects more sustainable. The farm will build on these projects by providing access to land for small enterprises, growing sustainable food on a large scale for MVP (and the public sector), and supporting people to create the change they want through the centre for social change.
Looking back now, we’ve realised that we’ve actually done quite a bit towards this over the last year (our day to day and project work is quite all-encompassing, so if I sound surprised it’s because I am!). Here’s a little round up of our Kindling farm related highlights:
The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation have funded an independent piece of work to look at the viability of the Kindling Farm. Before Christmas we had a great meeting with a farm manager, a quantity surveyor and a chartered surveyor to pick apart our plans. They’re now looking at the costs, land availability (we all got a bit nerdy and excited over a soil map of the North West!), income generation possibilities at the farm, and options to make it all work. They hope to have that report finished this month! Watch this space for the findings.
We’ve started preparing ourselves for the investment that establishing such a project will require, looking at ethical investment, community shares, loanstock options and so on. So if you’ll be looking for an ethical and very positive way to invest some money in the next few years, bear us in mind! We’ll be aiming to launch a share offer in the next 2 years or so.
Excitingly, our 2014 survey (of 250 people) found a lot of enthusiasm for what we plan to do with the farm. People felt it was of real value to: make land accessible to small producers (88%); provide low impact & low cost housing on or near the land; and provide training on a range of areas to create a more sustainable future (over 60% wanted training). And over 100 of those surveyed said they would consider supporting us to establish the farm through community shares or donations! Thanks to everyone who took part.
We’re also lucky enough to be working with and have the support of some great organisations. We again started our year at the Oxford Real Farming Conference, where our Chris facilitated a round table discussion (that we organised with the Ecological Land Co-op and Plunkett Foundation), with 15 or so amazing organisations working to support and encourage more people into farming. Nourish Scotland, Growing Communities, Sustain, Organic Lea, Fresh Start, Land Workers Alliance/Groundspring, and the Soil Association, to name but a handful. And we will continue working with them all, looking at how to improve our training scheme, create more sustainable markets, find alternative solutions to food poverty throughout the food system – and how to make the farm as useful as possible. So we’re in good hands! And we’re looking forward to another great year ahead.