Tamar Grow Local will be creating a land trust of starter horticultural units in the Tamar Valley aimed at reinvigorating mid-scale production in the area. The starter units will enable new entrants into agriculture to access 1-3 acre parcels of land at an affordable cost and utilize business support, training, equipment share and access to markets. Alongside the starter units, a not-for-profit brokerage system will be developed for these new and existing growers to sell their produce in the local area.
Investment from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has been secured to kick-start the project, Since the decline in the market gardening and fruit industry from the 1950’s with the advent of imported produce, production has declined. Currently less than half the area is in active production, most of which is grazing.
Simon Platten, Project Manager for Tamar Grow Local said: ‘It is very difficult for those from non-farming families or those wanting to enter agriculture to get a foot through the gate. We will be offering practical help in a number of different ways to incentivize new entrants to the sector.’
Simon continued: ‘The current food supply chain is polarised, at one extreme larger producers supplying supermarkets through national supply chains or through a few wholesalers, and at the other extreme small producers and microbusinesses only able to engage with very localised and restricted markets, We want to help new entrants and encourage scaling up of production whilst minimising risk and investment for smaller growers.’
Laurence Scott, Grants Manager for the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said: “We’re really pleased to be able to provide support for the project as it responds well to the Foundation’s interests in more sustainable forms of food production and consumption, and offers an excellent package of support that will attract new growers in an area with a long tradition of high-quality local food supply.”
Corinna Woodall Manager of the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty said that ‘With such an important heritage of growing and producing food from this valley, support for projects such as this are really important in providing employment and skills and boosting the local economy, but also helping to connect people to locally grown food and the landscape they value.’
Tamar Grow Local would like to hear from anyone interested in starter horticultural units in the Tamar Valley. Confirmed growing sites will be announced in Spring 2015.
For further details please contact Rachael Forster on (01579) 208412 or 07810 648422.
The accompanying photograph is of Simon Platten, Project Manager for Tamar Grow Local pictured by the River Tamar.
About Tamar Grow Local
Tamar Grow Local (TGL) is a ‘not for profit’ Community Interest Company (CIC) set up on co-operative principles for the benefit of the community, promoting sustainable local produce in the Tamar Valley. TGL is an umbrella organization with a number of current projects all aimed at improving food security. Our activities focus on three main areas:
- Community – Providing opportunities and support for local people and community groups to grow their own food.
- Education – Raising awareness of the benefits of local produce and the unique market gardening history of this area.
- Commercial – Working with commercial growers to increase the availability & consumption of local food and produce and to shorten supply chains. This includes creating greater links with local communities through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership agreements and developing a Land Trust and Producers Co-operative.
Our vision is that the Tamar Valley becomes once again, an area well known for the range and quality of local produce, including food and cut flowers, which has been grown sustainably and is affordable to all who live in the area. Also, that the Tamar Valley is able to support local producers to earn a good living.
About Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. This is achieved by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.
The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK, making grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change. We also operate a £26 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.
About The Tamar Valley
The Tamar Valley has a long history as a centre for food and flower production, which characterised its distinctive landscape (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). In its heyday in the 1950’s, market gardening was a major industry in the area, supported by eight to ten thousand people, and with grower’s co-operatives of 600 members or so. The microclimate and long growing season supported many local varieties of fruit and flowers suited to this climate. The relationship with Plymouth, linked by river and subsequently rail, has always been a major factor in the development of market gardening in this area.
Market research has demonstrated that there is now significant demand for local produce from the Tamar Valley, and particularly in Plymouth. Studies funded by RDPE in 2011 (Feasibility Study for a Tamar Valley Producers Co‐operative and Growers Land Trust) and also work funded through Cordiale in 2011 identified potential demand and markets. The demand has been further fuelled by Food Plymouth, and now the ‘Sustainable Food Cities’ programme.
However, the current capacity to meet this demand is inadequate, with volume and continuity of supply being the main limiting factors. Mid-scale producers are virtually absent in the supply chains, and local wholesalers rely on the 3-4 remaining larger enterprises for local produce, supplementing heavily with imported stock.