Community farming project saved by £10k funding boost

The successful FarmShare venture next to Postwick Park & Ride. Growers Rosalind Bacon, right, and Em

The successful FarmShare venture next to Postwick Park & Ride. Growers Rosalind Bacon, right, and Emma Stopford harvest the tomatoes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A vital funding boost of £10,000 has secured the future of an at-risk Norwich community farming venture.

Based near Postwick Park and Ride since 2011, Norwich FarmShare have been devoted to sustainably sourced produce since emerging from the Norwich Transition Town Network.

Towards the end of last year, the group which has bloomed to around 100 members were given notice they would have to vacate their plot of land by September.

And now a grant from Awards for All - which helps community projects with Big Lottery funds - has assured their survival.

'If it wasn't for this funding it probably would have been the end of the Farm Share,' said member Claire Gebbett. 'We would not have been in a position to carry on solely on a voluntary basis, as we would not have had the people to move the entire project from where it is now at Postwick. The funds were absolutely key in surviving. 'Otherwise we would have had to lose our growers, who we employ at the moment to grow two days a week.'

The group have been offered a number of options to base their new home, but refuse to move outside of a 10 mile radius of the city centre.

'We need to consider what type of farm we want to be,' added Ms Gebbett. 'We will now be looking at all the options we have got, We were becoming quite restricted at Postwick, and it might be that we move into multiple sites to bring in orchards or fruit trees to add to the harvest.

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'We were never allowed animals and we would love to be able to hold chickens or pigs, instead of being stuck with kale for most of the year.'

The news came at the same time as a fund raising ceilidh last weekend bolstered their bank by £686.

FarmShare grower Emma Stopford added it had been a 'turning point in the life of our growing community.'

'The funding means that we have the time and resources to look in depth at the many offers of new land we have been so lucky to receive as well as looking into possible links with other organisations,' she said. 'This will enable us to find the most suitable option for FarmShare's needs.'

FarmShare is looking for new members and volunteers during their transition process. Find out more at norwichfarmshare.co.uk.

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