Last week LESS and Claver Hill visited Kindling’s FarmStart project in Stockport; a scheme that allows individuals to explore the possibility of starting a farming career in a supportive environment.
We wanted to find out how FarmStart was working in Manchester; to learn what has worked well and what could be improved; identify areas for collaboration, and develop ideas for how we might start a FarmStart project here in Lancaster.
Kindling is a fantastic Manchester-based organisation that takes a holistic approach to creating a sustainable food system. Kindling works with communities, farmers, activists, and policy makers to create and support projects that bring about lasting and genuine change, all with the big aim of working towards a just and ecologically sustainable society. Their main projects include the ‘Land Army’ (a group of volunteers who support local growers during busy times of year) and Manchester Veg People (a multi-stakeholder cooperative of local organic growers, buyers and workers, who collaborate to provide fresh and seasonal food of the highest possible quality for Greater Manchester). FarmStart runs alongside these projects, utilising local growing talent to support more people to become organic growers and supply organic veg to Manchester.
Kindling started FarmStart in response to the challenges faced by aspiring farmers. (Unless you’re from a farming background or have access to land and money, it can be hard to start a farming career). On top of this, it is currently hard to make a small-scale farming business profitable without years of experience, and even with experience it is hard to make food pay for the cost of production.
Kindling’s FarmStart project tries to overcome some of these barriers and make the route into farming easier by providing access to land, training, a guaranteed market and the chance to gain experience of commercial organic farming with the support of experienced growers. Kindling offers this support for up to five years, over which time ‘FarmStarters’ gain valuable experience and learn how to make their businesses financially viable.
New recruits (FarmStarters), start off by co-managing a small plot of land, which they can then expand if they successfully achieve this. After a five year period, ‘FarmStarters’ leave Kindling’s land with the experience required to start their own businesses.
We would like to start a FramStart programme in Lancaster for people who want to increase their commercial scale growing experience and skills before taking on the additional challenge of setting up their own growing business. We will be scoping possibilities and interest over the next few months.
If you in are interested in this idea, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org