FarmStart Manchester is Kindling’s newest project and aims to bridge the gap between volunteering with the Land Army, and becoming a commercially viable organic producer in Greater Manchester.
Access to land, capital and mentoring - these can seem like huge barriers to starting out on a farming career. We’re hoping this could be an answer!
The Kindling Trust launched FarmStart Manchester in March 2013 in partnership with Abbey Leys Farm. FarmStart is an incubator farm for new growers to trial their farming business ideas in a low-risk setting. Our growers harvested and sold their first crops in June 2013.
Abbey Leys Farm is just 15 miles to the south-west of Manchester, with great motorway access to the city. The land is flat and fertile and already certified organic.
New Growers join FarmStart as TestCroppers, and benefit from access to certified organic land, training and mentoring, market access and peer support. This is a chance to see if farming suits them, and to put their ideas to the test.
If their business proves itself viable, TestCroppers go on as FarmStarters, and can choose to expand on to further ¼ acre sections each year for 4 years, when they should be ready to move onto their own farms.
New Growers may work on their own or with friends or family, and depending on what they grow, could expect to spend anything from a few hours to a couple of days each week tending their crops.
We want to see more people growing food around Greater Manchester, and we need more suppliers for our organic fruit and vegetable co-operative, Manchester Veg People. Abbey Leys want home-grown vegetables for their farm shop, and there is plenty of scope for attending local farmers markets. By trying to remove the barriers that stop people getting started in vegetable production, we hope to make it possible for a new generation of growers to emerge.
This scheme is the first of its kind in the UK, though it has proven a great success in North America. We hope to emulate that success here. To see how it works in Canada click here.
If you are interested in applying to join FarmStart Manchester,please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form. There will be a site visit on Sunday 10th November - please e-mail for details and to book a place.