A London community farm's share offer has been given a major boost to the tune of almost £70,000.
Sutton Community Farm - London’s must productive food growing space - is inviting local people to buy shares from today (Friday, 31 March) in a bid to raise funds for a new, bigger barn. It hopes to expand its VegBox scheme from 240 to 400 customers - and plough the income back into community programmes at the farm.
Support from the Booster Programme, a scheme funded by Power to Change and run by Co-operatives UK's Community Shares Unit, means match-funding of up to £68,575 is available. So for every £1 invested by individuals another £1 will be invested by the Booster Programme - up to the £68,575 threshold.
The match shares will be held by Co-operatives UK and be subject to the same terms and conditions as other Sutton Community Farm members, except for its right to withdraw share capital, which will be restricted to a pro-rata amount.
The Community Shares Unit is a joint initiative between Co-operatives UK and Locality, with funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Its objective is to support enterprises, promote good practice and raise awareness of community shares as a sustainable funding mechanism for community enterprises.
Sutton Community Farm currently operates out of a shed built in 2010. But the space is now too small to accommodate the growth of the VegBox scheme and thriving community of 2,500 volunteers that help plant, pick, weigh and pack the salad leaves and vegetables each year. In 2016 the farm produced nearly 15 tonnes of produce and customers for the VegBox scheme increased by more than 50 per cent.
Judy Groome, volunteer, said: "It’s tight for space when 30 of us squeeze into the shed for homemade soup, made with ingredients fresh from the fields that morning. But it’s a wonderful environment to make friends, feel a part of something that brings the local people together and provides delicious veg for the community further afield with the VegBox scheme."
Sutton Community Farm welcomes individuals who volunteer on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and also accommodates groups. School visits, those with supported learners, and corporates are able to enjoy an enriching experience by becoming part of the process to grow, cook and eat locally produced food too. A new barn will mean the farm no longer has to turn school groups away because its short for space.
Charlotte Steel, General Manager, said: "We are not asking for a donation, we are asking for an investment in the farm. Local people can become a member, feel a part of the community and have a say in how things are run. With the money we rais, we can extend our reach in the community providing more people with fresh local produce to the door step thereby helping the community we support to thrive and grow."
A fundraising launch party takes place on Saturday 8 April at Sutton Community Farm in London. To register click here. And for more information on Sutton Community Farm click here.