A success story in times of crisis is always a pleasure, and this 22-acre Community Farm in Bristol has boosted for the local region in many ways. Landowner Luke Hasell teamed up with local food producers, and using an unusual Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business model the team managed to get a fully organic, not-for-profit farm up and running. The CSA invited local restaurants and businesses to invest in the project at the outset, and in return they are guaranteed fresh, organic local produce year after year.
After looking for funding two years ago, Bristol Community Farm found over 400 investors from the local region and raised over £120,000 to make the Community Farm a reality. Local restaurants, chefs and grocers now have a source of locally produced organic produce, and anyone in the locality can order one of their Organic Veg Boxes.
The farm produces a wide array of organic produce and utilizes some heirloom seeds – and interestingly, in price comparisons with local supermarkets they claim their produce is 10-15% less expensive to the consumer. They regularly hold open tour days, and host a large Harvest Festival where visitors get hands-on experience with the food growing process.
The farm has also partnered with local job centers to run apprenticeships that host a several people on-site for a few months at a time to get vocational experience and hopefully a good reference. They also hold workshops where people of all ages can get some basic tuition and insight into organic farming.
Upon inspection, the CSA model at the Community Farm was given a glowing review – it was considered a proactive response to concerns around resilience and transparency in the food system. The report goes on to state that it provides a logical step forward for consumers in reclaiming sovereignty over the way their food is grown, processed and traded.
The farm has created various orchards, holds livestock and grows around 70 varieties of organic vegetables over the 22 acre site. Additionally, over 100 fruit trees were planted this spring and the farm plans to keep adding to the list. With more restaurants in the region showing an interest due to the quality of the produce and the local populace increasingly aware of concerns about food security, it seems that the project was created at the right time.
In a further push toward supporting local producers, the Community Farm is one of the many businesses in the Bristol area to have signed up for the Bristol Pound, an independent currency that came into being in the last few weeks that can only be spent in the Bristol area, thus encouraging independent producers to ensure the wealth they generate is genuinely beneficial to their locale.
Via Bristol Pound