The Covid-19 outbreak has brought the need for local, resilient food economies into sharper focus.
In response LESS, a Lancaster based community organisation, is launching FoodFriends – a new Lancaster based fundraising scheme that will raise money for regenerative local food projects whilst helping to train new small-scale farmers. Funds raised will initially support the set up Lancaster’s first FarmStart training site.
FarmStart schemes essentially combine training for would-be small-scale farmers along with help to access land, funding, sales and distribution routes. Two years ago LESS completed a feasibility study focusing on Lancaster that concluded that there were lots of people wanting to take part in local food production as well as a significant demand for locally grown produce.
The Landworkers Alliance, a union of land based workers, have also been campaigning for better support for new-entrant farmers since 2018, highlighting the aging farming population (less than 3% are under 35) and the barriers to entry such as the high costs of land and rural accommodation, lack of training and skills, and the challenge of funding the start-up costs of new enterprises when the potential financial returns from farming are so low.
LESS is now in the process of setting up a local farm across two sites in North Lancashire which will serve as a training centre for new food growers (FarmStarters) and provide locally grown organic vegetables for the local economy. This is part of a 10 year plan which will see a ring of small-scale producers using climate resilient and regenerative farming techniques to produce local food.
To support this vision LESS and FoodFutures is asking anyone that is able, to become a FoodFriends member and donate monthly for a chance of winning Local Food prizes whilst supporting the development of our resilient local food economy!
By making a regular donation of £5 per month you are eligible for monthly draws for prizes to win Food Vouchers which can be spent with our partner organisations. Our current partners include the Fig Tree fair trade chocolatier based in Garstang; Single Step wholefood cooperative based in Lancaster and Cockerham Goats who raise goat meat to high welfare and sustainability standards. You can also benefit from prizes from Claver Hill Community Farm and the Sewing Cafe’s reusable food wraps, bags and garden work-belts.
The money raised by the scheme will go directly to supporting the new sites and making the FarmStart vision a reality. From early next year, our training scheme will be open for would-be farmers and you will start seeing our vegetables and other products available locally.
For more information about joining FoodFriends, or becoming a Partner Organisation for the scheme see www.foodfutures.org.uk/foodfriends or contact Ellen firstname.lastname@example.org