2023 Farm Fund Grant
4 min read
We split our 2023 Farm Fund pot between three valuable growing projects: Amanda at Tamarack Hollow in the US and Common Soil and GROW in the UK. Hear how your backing has supported them this year and helped them put structures in place to make their models sustainable and profitable for the future.
GROW is a farming charity with a 6-acre plot attached to The Totteridge Academy in High Barnet, North London. Initially, GROW intended to use the grant to support two 18-25-year-olds from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds for a paid seasonal traineeship.
When the government changed their apprenticeship scheme, GROW were no longer able to bring on two trainees, instead using their £6,000 grant to support one apprentice, Lotta. Lotta’s work on the farm taught her vital practical skills to support a future in horticulture. It’s impact ran much deeper:
“Before this job, I struggled to find meaning in the everyday but working the land has given me purpose, drive and passion and I am much more hopeful about my future than I was before."
Today, she is completing her extended level 2 in horticulture while continuing to work with GROW one day a week to support their mushroom growing project as well as providing extra help as a grower on the farm when required.
“I am determined to continue working in the growing sphere because I think it's so important to keep the youth in these spaces."
Common Soil is a 2.5-acre community farm in Stroud, Gloucestershire. They set out in 2020 in response to a local call for more chemical-free, regeneratively grown produce. At the time of approaching us for a grant, Common Soil was fulfilling 20 orders a week. In order to have financial resilience, they knew they had to hit around 50.
Their £5,000 grant gave them the scope to invest in farm infrastructure (netting, scales, a wheelbarrow) whilst supporting their main food grower — Alec — as he focused on scaling up their model. The result:
"We did it! We’ve upscaled our systems to provide 52 veg boxes each week. The grant was instrumental in getting us through the few months before the expansion of the veg boxes and enabling Alec to focus on and deliver that expansion.
It’s been nice and abundant over the summer, allowing us to leave out extras for members to help themselves to. We’re hoping they remember this as we head into the less plentiful winter months. We’re now looking towards another expansion next year."
Amanda is an incredibly committed, organic vegetable grower in Plainfield, Vermont. Sourcing her radicchios since 2017, we were already excited by Amanda’s farming project, in which she adapts traditional radicchio growing and forcing methods from Italy to the climate of northern Vermont in an attempt to preserve their unique varieties and flavors.
She intended to use her $6,000 grant to extend production and invest in fences and irrigation to protect her crops against their greatest threats — white tailed deer and late-summer drought. The grant would also help her establish a better forcing system for extended production of treviso tardivo and forced pink radicchio into December and January.
This year was Amanda’s worst ever — with floods damaging her vegetable production and her entire Treviso crop wiped out. These unpredictable weather events make it more important than ever to build farm resilience and strengthen off-season outputs.
“This grant is allowing me to develop a new farm product— a low-input crop that will bring in income during the off-season— but one that requires patience and experimentation. These funds are not only supporting that process financially but are a much-needed vote in support of slow and deliberate farming to develop unique flavors and sustainable practices.”
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