Community and social enterprise managed food and farming projects are often at the heart of a local food economy.
They supply individuals through market stalls and farm shops, restaurants and cafes, and even local schools and hospitals. They provide training, education and employment and contribute to health and wellbeing through volunteering and health activities such as providing good, fresh, healthy, locally grown food.
Whilst finding small sites for community gardens and neighbourhood growing schemes is relatively easy, land prices, competition from developers and the sale of local authority farms and growing land, all make it hard for food growing projects access to new land, and still keep their businesses viable and their produce affordable, when they scale up.
We are currently working with three leading food growing social enterprises as they seek to secure new land and planning permissions. We are working with them in order to understand the barriers they face and the role they play in delivering local economic resilience and the development of sustainable livelihoods.
We think social enterprise food and farming projects have great potential to support sustainable local economic development, especially in peri-urban areas, but these are the areas where pressures on land use and competition for land are often highest. We’d like to hear from local authorities and other landowners interested in exploring how food growing areas and contribute to the development of healthy, resilient local economies.
Scroll down to the posts below to read some of our latest work with food and farming projects across the country.
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Members of OrganicLea workers’ co-op are running a thriving food growing project – with elements of recreation, education and campaigning – on ex-council land.
Saffron Acres is the site of 68 new social eco-homes and a community food growing project delivering jam and preserves across the country. Their story highlights innovative ways to create successful enterprises in deprived areas.
Broadclyst Community Farm
Leasing a site owned by the National Trust, the members of Broadclyst are growing crops, feeding local people and improving the land.
Related news and opinion
Blog articles, news and opinion pieces from the Shared Assets team
We make costly contingencies to protect the nation from a host of distant threats, yet give relatively little attention to local food systems, despite the huge potential costs of disruption to our food supply. Developing strong local food systems should be at the heart of plans for societal resilience.
Community food enterprises are a success story of local collective action and have the potential to make significant contributions to local economic resilience. However despite its success, and the existence of some supportive policy drivers, the sector faces barriers to realising its full potential.
What can a community food enterprise in 2014 learn from the HIV service delivery projects of the 1980s? We reflect on how themes from our research into social innovation relate to the UK’s growing land based social sector.
We are conducting a research project looking at social innovation, how it scales and how it retains or grows its social impact. Here we look in more detail at the history of community led food growing. We’re keen to get feedback on this work as it develops. Please take a look and leave a comment.