'Pathways to Farming' - Increasing the number of horticultural food producers in North Powys

Pathways to farming team with Helen and Dan from Farmstart in a polytunnel in Stockport

"Pathways to Farming is a new project of Mid-Wales based organisation Mach Maethlon, funded by LEADER Arwain. The project aims to support new horticultural producers by offering training, access to land and routes to new markets. The project launched in July 2018, so we wanted to visit some similar projects to learn from others and make connections.

We were lucky enough to spend the day with Helen Woodcock from The Kindling Trust in Manchester, the trip was funded by Social Farms & Gardens Tyfu Fyny programme. We went to learn about their FarmStart programme and how they have supported and trained people in commercial horticulture. It was really interesting to learn about the two different FarmStart models that The Kindling Trust had developed at Abbey Leys and Woodbank. Pathways to Farming is looking to offer something similar to Abbey Leys, so it was really interesting to find out what worked well and not so well at that site and learn from their experiences. It's also always nice to spend the day with lovely folk, sharing ideas and getting inspired!" Jodie Griffith - Project Co-ordinator.

The pathways to farming project will meet it’s aims by running a five step programme:

-EVENTS: to promote local food and engage more people in growing and eating it.

-VOLUNTEERING: offering volunteer opportunities to people interested in gaining experience in sustainable food production.

-MICROFARMS: developing new ‘microfarm’ sites on which new entrants to horticultural food production can test their ideas and gain experience.

-VOCATIONAL TRAINING: developing a new accredited training in sustainable horticultural food production.

-NEW MARKETS: creating new markets for locally produced food, including food hubs and new cooperative selling models.

The project has developed exciting partnerships. In Machynlleth the Centre for Alternative Technology have offered land, project support and shared vision, while in Newtown the project has partnered with community growing organisation Cultivate to share their community garden and their vision for a more resilient food system.

We are really happy that programmes such as the Pathways to Farming are able to learn from the challenges and acheivements of the FarmStart programme. And we hope to come and visit when the project is up and running! It's great to know that the movement to increase accessibilty to the farming sector for growers and eaters continues, with many projects like these popping up over the UK.