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Norwich FarmShare launches Crowdfunder bid to support a growing community

PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:17 08 November 2017

FarmShare growers Rosalind Bacon, left, and Emma Stopford picking tomatoes at Postwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

FarmShare growers Rosalind Bacon, left, and Emma Stopford picking tomatoes at Postwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A community sustainable farming project is preparing for its next chapter after launching a crowdfunding bid to raise money for its new home in Norwich.

Norwich FarmShare members and volunteers. Picture: Matt Hall. Norwich FarmShare members and volunteers. Picture: Matt Hall.

Norwich FarmShare originally operated from a plot at Postwick when it was set up in 2010, but after the site was reclaimed by the landowner last year the group has now found a new base at Valpy Avenue allotments.

A £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund helped the group to set up at the north city site, where it plans to develop a programme of educational and community engagement work as well as growing vegetables. A second, larger site at Whitlingham will provide extra growing capacity and training opportunities in the longer term.

A five-week campaign will go live on the Crowdfunder website today to raise further funds to set up infrastructure at Valpy Avenue, including a compost toilet, a volunteer shelter and a pizza oven for social events.

Emma Stopford, one of the growers working with FarmShare, said: “We are delighted to have found two great sites with lots of potential. We know our members really value the opportunities for working on the land as well as the sense of community and the local, chemical-free produce. We are excited to be growing vegetables again after a long search for the right site.

Norwich FarmShare vegetables. Picture: Norwich FarmShare. Norwich FarmShare vegetables. Picture: Norwich FarmShare.

“Our aim now is to start doing more work in the local community to give more people access to fresh vegetables and help them learn about working on the land.”

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who joined Lord Mayor of Norwich David Fullman in attending a launch event for the crowdfunder, said: “I’m really pleased to have had the chance to learn more about FarmShare and meet the great people involved. A project that allows us to grow food, take action on climate change and which improves community links in one hit is a treasure for the city. We’re lucky to have it.”

The crowdfunder will offer a package of rewards for individual investors offering different levels of pledges. So far the rewards include limited edition artwork from local artist Ana Simoes Pereira, bike maintenance sessions with the Norwich Bike Repair Company, capoeira classes, discount vouchers for the Waffle House, Norfolk Car Club discounts, Christmas cards designed by a local artist, and guitar lessons by a local musician.

ABOUT NORWICH FARMSHARE

FarmShare growers Rosalind Bacon, left, and Emma Stopford picking tomatoes at Postwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY FarmShare growers Rosalind Bacon, left, and Emma Stopford picking tomatoes at Postwick. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich FarmShare can be joined for a monthly subscription of £2.

Those who want a weekly bag of vegetables choose from three sizes, with prices starting at £27 per month, which can be collected from a “hub” on Pitt Street every Thursday – or they can opt for delivery by cycle courier.

The group will run regular workdays at its new Valpy Avenue site, where volunteers can help prepare the site and construct a shelter as well as helping with the growing.

Bee Springwood, one of FarmShare’s volunteer board members, said: “FarmShare has always been about making Norwich’s food supply more resilient as well as providing people with opportunities to grow food, spend time outdoors and learn practical skills.

“The crisis of climate change and the uncertainties around Brexit will both have a big impact on food supply, and it’s more important than ever for local communities to have access to land so they can play a much bigger role in the food system.”

The group is asking anyone who can donate tools including a three point landscape rake to clear couch grass to get in contact via the Farmshare website.

For more details see the Crowdfunder website.

FarmShare’s ‘Fund our Farm’ campaign is also seeking public support for an Aviva Community Fund grant. Votes can be made before November 21 at the Aviva Community Fund web site.

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