Kindling's long term vision is to create a rural base within 50 miles of Manchester which will include a farm, Eco-housing, a Social Enterprise Hub and a Centre for Social Change. There, building on our existing projects, we aim to create models for:
Sustainable Production, Sustainable Living and Social change
In 2014 the overlapping environmental and ecological crises linked to land, water and resource availability led the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to conclude publicly that industrial agriculture has had its day, heralding small, agroecological farmers as the future of food. And yet successive years have seen an ever-greater concentration of power in the food system, the driving down of farm-gate prices and with a few notable exceptions (go France!), a blind faith from governments in highly intensive, resource-hungry farming models.
We’ve made progress in creating alternative models in Greater Manchester that show another food system is possible. A rural base that can accommodate field-scale growing, provide affordable accommodation for producers and space for food enterprises to establish and develop will enable us to facilitate so much more:
We will incubate a new generation of local growers:
In the UK, although still proportionally low, organic sales are once again on the increase, with younger people providing the key to growth. Kindling runs a package of initiatives that provide a gradual, supported route into agroecological growing, re-invigorating an aging farming sector and skilling-up a new generation of organic veg growers. Over fifty people have already benefited from our courses, with many going on to join our FarmStart programme and some securing work on local farms. Our farm will further lower some of the barriers for people who want to farm, providing a route into meaningful employment in agroecological farming.
We will confront food poverty, yet look after our farmers:
Schools, care homes and hospitals are crying out for healthier, more sustainable food, but cost concerns dominate. We are already working with the public sector to help them change their menus to deliver food that is fair to everyone, and our More than Medicine social prescribing scheme in Stockport is combining access to local organic veg with gardening and cooking, to fantastic effect. We can’t wait to roll this out at the farm.
We’re also using co-operative approaches to enterprise to build understanding and justice in the food supply chain. Through practical examples of supply-chain co-operation, we’re nurturing collaboration between farmers and buyers and making farming a more viable, less risky way to earn a living, and our family of enterprises sold nearly £126,000 of co-operatively-traded organic produce in 2017.
We are already making organic, local food available to a wider range of Greater Manchester residents than ever before, and the farm will enable us to scale up these enterprising solutions.
We will reduce our reliance on a small number of huge corporations for our food:
We’ve already supported local enterprises like Glebelands City Growers to expand and diversify, and we’ve incubated two thriving co-operative food businesses. The farm will be home to a brand new Social Enterprise Hub – providing land, workshop space and equipment at supportive rates, as well as access to business support and advice to help establish progressive social enterprises, co-operatives and small local businesses.
We will bring together those working to use food as a catalyst for change:
Through Feeding Manchester, we’ve created the region’s longest running programme of food conferences and events, bringing together hundreds of practitioners to connect and build partnerships, and Stockport is one of only six British cities placing sustainable food at the heart of its strategic planning after Kindling secured its place on the Sustainable Food Cities programme. We also work with others at a national level, sitting on Sustain's Farming Working Group, having advised the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty, worked with the Food Foundation and regularly contributing to events such as the Oxford Real Farming Conference.
The farm’s Centre for Social Change will provide a dynamic hub for both local and national practitioners to gather, learn and continue to collaborate for a better food system and a fairer world.
We will connect more people to their own food:
Hundreds of people have got stuck in on local farms and at our Stockport horticulture hub via our Land Army programme, courses and events, and Veg Box People customers are enjoying the opportunity to see where their food is coming from. The Kindling farm will create a centre of learning and volunteering at every level of a sustainable food production system, allowing kids and adults alike to nurture themselves and the land.
We’ll farm as if the future mattered:
Boosting biodiversity, improving soil health and lowering the carbon footprint of our food will frame our production activities at the farm. We’ll build on our previous work with the Heritage Lottery Fund to research commercial production of regional heritage crops, suited to our local conditions and in demand from MVP restaurants. We’ll continue to research and demonstrate sustainable land use; using organic, low energy production methods and crop diversification to increase local resilience in the face of climate change. Intercropping cereal, vegetables and pulses between trees, Agroforesty is one of the most diverse food production systems on earth, and will play a large role in the way we develop the farm.