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Small scale farming that also benefits global goals.

The Kindling Trust teaches how to go from garden and allotment to commercial scale growing.

For the last decade, the Manchester-based social enterprise has been helping prospective local farmers plan for commercial-scale growing and understand practicalities such as maintaining soil health, controlling pests and diseases.

In that time, the organisation has put 27 people through its Farm Start programme which shows them the realities of taking private horticulture to the next level. In addition, it has hosted another 90 in its more advanced commercial growers programme.

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For some participants, scaling up is a shock to the system, said co-founder and coordinator Helen Woodcock.

“It’s quite a reality check,” she said. “People will often go: ‘I don’t want to be weeding every time I’m there’. Well, that’s what it’s like. It’s very much about showing people the reality of commercial growing to help them decide if it’s for them before they invest in land or equipment.”

“Enabling folks to grow more than just what they need is essential to the wider goal of shrinking the dominance of socially and ecologically destructive corporate agriculture”, Helen said.

We caught up with Helen at the Oxford Real Farming Conference.

“Gardening is important on so many levels. But even if everybody grew a bit in their back yard, there’s just no way that we would be able to feed ourselves. It’s more efficient to grow some crops on a field scale, so we need to skill up a new generation of growers to do that. And we need to value them properly so that they can make a livelihood out of it” she said.

Organic growing is hard work, high risk and low paid, but the new growers discover that it is also about really making a difference.  They are part of a movement to shift the balance back to locally, sustainably produced food that contributes to global goals like protecting the soil, making healthy fresh food accessible to everyone and reducing the carbon emissions of industrial scale agriculture.

“People do want to change things rather than just doing it for themselves; it’s getting that chance to do it and feel part of it,” Helen said.

Find out more and about how you could get involved by visiting: www.kindling.org.uk.

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