A new funding programme in the UK is taking bids to fund socially aware food projects until the end of September.
Just Growth is designed to encourage the growth of British community-based food and farming. It is being co-ordinated by Funding Enlightened Agriculture (FEA). This is a network of organisations and individuals who want to support agricultural and food production practices that are economically sound, socially just and promote long-term protection of natural resources.
FEA is working in partnership with Community and Co-operative Finance (CCF) and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to deliver the scheme. The organisers are looking for projects that farm in a way that nurtures and protects the environment, helps people take control of their food while enabling more people to eat better food.
A key aim of the programme is to encourage community ownership. EFA will be looking for organisations that are owned and run by their community or that have strong co-operative principles embedded in their structure.
Eligible projects could include: a start up community-based farming project with a strong plan; or an existing community farming project that is looking to expand; or an existing community farming project that wants to develop a new aspect to its business. Applications would also be considered from other food or farming projects that can show that their work is strengthening the community farming sector.
The programme will support and fund up to 14 projects over an 18-month period to December 2016.
As many as eight projects could receive a funding package made up of one third loan financing from CCF and one third grant funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The remaining third of the funding will have to be raised by the project itself from its local community. This could be crowdfunding or community shares. Projects will have to raise the necessary community finance as a condition for the release of the loan and the grant.
The minimum loan will be GBP 15,000, with the same threshold for grants. Community funding will need to be at least GBP 15,000 but can be a higher figure. While grant elements will be capped at GBP 20,000 the loan elements and community funding can exceed that figure.
In addition to funding, successful projects will receive up to three days of specialist advice in support of their work. The remaining projects will receive a day and a half of expert support to help them develop their plans and bring them closer to being ready for investment.
Project leaders should read the Just Growth notes for applicants before downloading and filling in the Just Growth application form (note: automatically downloads a word document) which needs to be returned to Clare Horrell (mailto: clare[at]feanetwork.org)
Any queries should also be addressed to Clare.
Applications close at 5pm on September 30, 2015.