Growing Together - New community food initiative launched!

27th Jul 2016

New initiative launched to tackle funding issue in community food and growing sector

Community Shares Scotland are excited to be partners in a pioneering initiative that has been launched to help bring financial sustainability to the UK’s network of community growing groups.

Growing Together, a partnership of community and environmental sector organisations supported by the Big Lottery Fund, has promised to develop ‘income inspiration’ for grassroots groups, to help wean them off over-reliance on funding grants.

It will also offer expert advice and training about income generation, as well as working with government and big business to unlock land, skills and money. The Growing Together partnership will work across the UK and comprises the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Groundwork UK, Incredible Edible Network, Permaculture Association, Development Trusts Association (Scotland), Wales Cooperative Centre (Wales) and Cooperative Alternatives (Northern Ireland).

According to a recent survey conducted by Growing Together, many community growing groups (including community-run gardens, farms, orchards and allotments) face a looming funding crisis. Nearly half of the groups questioned regularly operated at a loss and the majority felt the success of their project relied on grant funding. The survey also revealed a significant lack of knowledge about alternative forms of income, such as crowdfunding, ecommerce, procurement and community shares.

However, there was a desire from these groups for support, particularly when it came to how to get donations from the local community, how to sell produce or services offered by the group and how to work with the local business community.

Growing Together’s Jeremy Iles said:  “We want to use the combined expertise of the partners to support groups around income issues, as well as developing fresh, innovative ideas. There has been an explosion of interest in the last 10 years in community growing and the proven benefits to health, local pride and better eating that it can generate. But, due to austerity, grant funding is more difficult to find - particularly from local authorities - and this is starting to bite with both new and more established groups. Growing Together is a way of tackling that shortfall and helping local groups get the confidence, skills and knowledge they need to move from reliance on grants to a dynamic and balanced income model.”

To kick off activities, two FREE workshop days have been organised in Swansea (16th July) and Sheffield (21st July) which will provide a range of ideas for income generation, identify barriers groups are facing to find income and identify solutions to some of these barriers.

Further details available by emailing: info@growingtogether.community