Community Resilience Project
About a year and a half ago, the farm was mostly Laurence, and he was still mostly behind a desk at a design agency here in Cornwall. We knew that we needed him to go full time if Soul Farm was going anywhere so we asked people to help us get started. We ran a Crowdfunder. One of the things we raised money for in that campaign was to fund boxes for people who needed them and couldn’t afford them.
Back when our first baby started solids, we started learning a whole lot more about organic eating. We felt strongly that good food shouldn’t only be accessible to people in a certain income bracket. Now that we were becoming food producers ourselves and growing to organic principles, we needed to figure out what we were going to do with that issue of access. Funding the first boxes by donations and linking with a local foodbank was a start.
Soon after that, Laurence went along to the Oxford Real Farming Conference (remember when conferences were in person?!). He came home buzzing about a session he’d attended run by Maggie Chenny of Rock Steady Farm and Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm where they talked about their solidarity box schemes which they funded through a sliding scale model. We excitedly agreed that this is what we’d aim for, inviting people into our food community as full members.
We gave the sliding scale our first go in our winter 2020 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) veg box season which has just come to a close. We funded 10 boxes free to those who needed them to be as well as low income boxes sold at below cost price. Intending to expand to run an almost year round CSA season this year, we hoped to also increase our solidarity memberships (low income and fully funded).
The wheels were in gear but expanding was set to be a challenge. That’s why we’re grateful to be in partnership with the Landworkers’ Alliance to scale up this side of our work. This year they invited us to participate in their Community Resilience Project with funding they’ve distributed from the National Lottery Community Fund. Thanks must, of course, also go to the National Lottery players for making this possible. The funding they’ve given us has enabled us to really get this side of things going alongside all the other work we’re doing.
With 24% of our work now on the solidarity scheme, the money is helping us to pay our delivery driver (fully funded boxes are delivered door to door), spec up our polytunnels and finish our walk-in cooler – all while keeping that proportion in mind. It’s also helped us to put money into wages for time spent working on growing food for the solidarity scheme. And basically it’s freed up time to begin building more knitted relationships with our solidarity members. One of the results is that a solidarity member has started making and selling her baklava on our stall at The Food Barn – Tregew on Saturdays.
The more we learn about the part agroecological projects can play in improving food access, the more we know we need to do. We’re excited to see how this aspect of the Soul Farm’s work will grow. But we also look back to how quickly we’ve gone from just our little family, trying to work out what little, big thing we could do to being enabled to create a project that meaningfully pushes for food security. That deserves a pause every now and then, for gratitude.
Learn more about how our solidarity scheme and sliding work
Donate to help us add extras (like potatoes or fruit) to our solidarity boxes
Come along to The Food Barn – Tregew to pick up baklava and vegetables as well as make a donation to the solidarity scheme there