Manchester based charity the Kindling Trust have launched a Community Share Offer to raise money to buy a farm on the outskirts of Salford that they say will use “pioneering” farming techniques to counter our current “industrialised and unsustainable food system”.
The share offer, launched on 3 April, aims to attract enough community minded investors to raise between £390,000 and £650,000 for the 128 acre farm. Getting off to a flying start, the offer has already reached 31 percent of its goal and needs to raise the rest before 3 July 2021, when the offer closes.
The Kindling Trust have been working on challenging the dominant industrialised food system for over a decade and say they have been working towards making Kindling Farm a reality over that time. When the Trust was approached by a farmer with a farm to sell that suited their needs, they took the next step of setting up a Community Share Offer to allow the Kindling Farm co-operative to raise the money to buy the farm. Due to it being a co-operative, all investors in the share offer will also own a slice of the farm. Helen Woodcock, co-founder of Kindling Farm, says they started this project to:
“Establish a farm owned by you, its community. Kindling Farm is about coming together to find practical solutions to the ecological crisis we are in. It is about hope, it is about social change and it is about creating a farming blueprint for our future, right here in the Northwest of England.”
The farm plans to use the practice of agroforestry, which combines the cultivation of crops alongside the growing of food producing trees. This creates a more diverse ecology for the farmland than the standard monoculture model of growing single crops that predominates in modern farming, and is dangerously degrading soil across the globe. The US Department of Agriculture says agroforestry has the potential to protect topsoil, livestock and crops; increase crop productivity; increase water use efficiency; and reduce the energy and chemical inputs needed for crop production.
The problems caused by modern agriculture methods is a prime driver for Woodcock who says:
“In response to an industrialised and unsustainable food system, Kindling Farm will value the growers and producers of our food and create a farming blueprint for the future while looking after the land and the wider environment in the North West. Kindling Farm is about growing food, but it is also about growing hope. It is about creating a food economy rooted in fairness and sustainability; one that values the farmers and producers of our food, respects and nurtures the land and wildlife, and puts the health and well-being of our communities at its heart.“
Kindling have already made a start developing their agroforestry system. Using a grant from the DEFRA Green recovery Challenge, they have already grown 12,000 fruit and nut trees. Half of these are destined for local community orchards around Manchester, with the other half destined for Kindling Farm once it is established.
At this stage of the purchase process the Kindling Trust is unable to reveal the exact location of the farm, which lies to the west of Salford, at the request of the farmer. The cost of purchasing and establishing the farm is based on independent reports, including those by property advisors Savills UK and Co-op Culture. The Community Share Offer also has the support of the Community Share Booster Programme (CSBP), which means that the first £100,000 raised is match funded. So every pound donated by the public, up to this figure, will be matched by another pound by the CSBP.
The minimum investment asked for in the share offer is £200, and they project up to a 3% return on the initial investment in three years. That return projection is made according to their business plan progressing as stated, but there is also the possibility the value of the initial investment could go down due to unforeseen circumstances. The investment proposal for the farm states that the farming model adopted will be unaffected by the amount they raise. Abi Baguley, a Kindling Farm Director, says:
“Only by reaching our minimum target for this community share offer can we establish the Kindling Farm. This investment will allow us to secure a loan, purchase the farm and get farming straight away”
If the maximum target is raised this will enable the farm to go ahead with less borrowed from the bank, and will increase the possibility of a positive return on investments. Whichever amount is raised, Kindling Farm aims to start challenging the dominant system of agriculture and begin farming in 2022/23.
Find out more about the Kindling Farm Offer – click here
For the investment page for Kindling Farm – click here
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Feature image: Kindling Trust