Norwich FarmShare has received a major boost to its crowdfunding campaign from the Santander Changemaker fund. The crowdfunder is aiming to raise £25,000 by 11 December to set up its new community growing site at Valpy Avenue allotments. With over £5,000 pledged already by 85 supporters, the project needs to raise a further £7,500 to qualify for the match funding. Supporters are invited to make a pledge at bit.ly/fund-our-farm.
The group, which was forced to leave its original Postwick site last year, has moved to this new site in Mile Cross where it plans to develop a programme of educational and community engagement work as well as growing vegetables. The group also has plans for a second, larger site at Whitlingham Nurseries which will provide extra growing capacity and training opportunities in the longer term.
“Farmshare is all about producing food with the environment and local community at it’s heart, and connecting people with the land,” says local artist Rob Barnes, who has donated a signed limited edition linocut to the campaign. “I also like the educational outreach ethos, especially teaching children where their food really comes from.”
Cllr David Fullman, Lord Mayor of Norwich is also supporting the campaign with a unique opportunity for a group to have tea in the parlour with him followed by a tour of historic City Hall. “I support Norwich Farmshare because it is realistic and sustainable”, says David. “It brings benefits to the minds, bodies and spirits of the members in so many ways. It provides productive, focused social activity that is good for everyone involved.”
The group have been encouraged by these and other donations of crowdfunder ‘rewards’ from prominent local artists and influencers as well as from members and supporters. Other donations include clay sessions with renowned potter and art historian, Fiona Fitzgerald; a photoshoot session with professional photographer Mark Hewlett; an exclusive poetry event with acclaimed poet George Szirtes, a foraging walk with FarmShare grower Emma Stopford; and generous discounts at the Norwich Bike Repair Cooperative.
“We’re very pleased to have raised over £5,000 already, and our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has pledged or helped promote the campaign so far,” says Olivia Hanks, one of Farmshare’s volunteer board members. “The match funding from Santander is a real game-changer for us and means every pound donated is worth twice as much. But we’ve still got a way to go to hit the 50% mark, so please keep spreading the word! FarmShare has great potential to improve lives, whether it’s through eating more healthily, learning new skills, spending time outdoors or just being part of a big-hearted community. Achieving our funding target will allow us to reach many more people.”
The idea for the project emerged in 2008 when a group of 50 met to discuss the failings of the food system in Norwich, and Norwich FarmShare was launched two years later. Liz Day has been a member since its inception, and is now running the crowdfunder campaign. “Norwich FarmShare is a way of doing it differently – keeping it local, using ecological methods that are good for the earth and good for our bodies, and building community at the same time,” says Liz. “As a community farming project we simply can’t compete with supermarkets – we have to find innovative ways to make it work, mobilising the financial commitment and goodwill of the whole community. That’s what’s so inspiring about crowdfunding – it’s about ordinary people coming together behind a vision and saying ‘together we can make this happen’.”
As well as seeking support from the general public, Farmshare are approaching local socially responsible businesses, offering a ‘Proud Supporters of Norwich FarmShare’ logo and a feature on their growing social media platforms in return for a pledge. The group can also arrange bespoke team building events for companies, ranging from foraging walks to nature art workshops and sustainable building days.