Funding Enlightened Agriculture Network (FEA) – a collaboration of UK funders, social entrepreneurs, business advisers and food and farming experts – has launched its Just Growth programme, designed to encourage the growth of community-based food and farming projects.

With funding from Co-operative and Community Finance and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Just Growth will support social enterprises that produce food in an environmentally friendly and socially just way.

Just-Growth-logo-25ppi-2Programme Manager Clare Horrell told the SFT, “Our aim is for this to be a pilot project and that further phases will help nurture community-based agriculture and create vibrant and resilient social enterprises.”

FEA is interested in farming projects that nurture and protect the environment and help people take control of their food. It is looking for up to 14 projects based in England, Wales or Scotland to support over an 18-month period. As part of its aim to encourage community ownership, the Just Growth programme will be prioritising organisations that are owned and run by their community or have strong co-operative principles embedded in their structure.

The sorts of projects that Just Growth is hoping to fund include:

  • a start-up community-based farming project with a strong plan;
  • an existing community farming project that is looking to expand;
  • an existing community farming project that wants to develop a new aspect of its business;
  • other food and farming projects that can show that their work is strengthening the community farming sector.

Up to eight projects will receive a funding package made up of a loan from Co-operative and Community Finance and a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with the remaining third of the financing to be raised by the project itself either through crowdfunding or community shares. In addition to funds, the programme is offering three days of mentoring support from business experts.

The projects that do not qualify will receive a day and a half of expert support to help them develop their plans to a stage where they can compete for funding.

If you’re interested in taking part in the Just Growth programme, visit the FEA website and complete the application form. If you have any questions or would like to discuss whether your project is suitable, contact the programme manager, Clare Horrell.

Photograph: Cultivate Oxford 

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