Ecological Farm for Bath

by Middle Ground Growers in Bath, Bath and North East Somerset, United Kingdom

£64,645

£95,000 target 14 days left
68% 306 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 19th December 2021 at 6:00pm

We are creating a new, ecological farm from scratch... well from a 16 acre field! To produce local organic food for 400 homes in Bath.

by Middle Ground Growers in Bath, Bath and North East Somerset, United Kingdom

What is an ecological farm? 

It is a sustainable farm that works with nature. We apply ecological principles to farming. And it works! 

Ecological farming can even regenerate our environment! It can provide meaningful employment, stronger local economies and more resilient communities. Farming with ecology really works and small ecological farms are more productive per acre of land cultivated than conventional (industrial) agriculture.

For Bath and beyond...

There is no reason why we cannot grow the majority of our calories and nutrients locally. Only decades ago Bath’s food was produced by a myriad of market gardens, orchards and small farms dotted in and around the city.

This campaign hopes to shine the light on the need for small and ecological farms everywhere in the UK. 

We want to show what is possible to achieve when the community come together and reclaim food production and the protection of their environment into their own hands. This is food sovereignty and nature restoration in action. 

We are part of a positive movement and are inviting you on board! 

We are Middle Ground Growers  

We are a team of 4 young ecological farmers collaborating to grow food for community. 

Hamish Evans

1634494745_img_2324.jpgI began working on organic farms at age 16 and spent 2 years travelling and volunteering at ecological projects around the world, from new zealand to palestine and back to the UK in 2018! I began working at Avonleigh organic farm whilst establishing a small market garden in Bath, initially selling to a few locals and a small shop. In 2019 I took the leap and quit my paid work to focus on establishing Middle Ground Growers. I am now working full-time on this farm, growing for over 70 families weekly veg boxes, whilst living on a solar powered canal boat. I feel deeply committed to land regeneration and growing food for my community.  

 Xavier Hamon               

1634494841_img_2338.jpgI grew up in France and studied agriculture in Lyon with a special interest in agroforestry and agroecology. Throughout my studies I worked on organic and biodynamic farms getting first hand experience of dairy, cattle and horticulture farming. I contributed to the research, development and promotion of agroforestry practices in France and Europe. When I moved to the UK in 2010, I worked in conservation and environmental education NGOS. My passion for organic farming took me back to work with cooperatives of coffee and cocoa smallholder producers in Latin America and East Africa. In 2017 I completed my Permaculture Design Course in Colombia and began shifting towards land based activities, re-learning how to grow food and trees. Upon return to the UK I began volunteering at local growing projects, Wwoofing and started working with Middle Ground Growers in 2019.  

Livi Rhodes

1634495022_img_2337.jpgWhen I moved onto a canal boat, I learnt off grid living skills and remembered how to live with rather than in combat with the elements. I started working on an organic flower farm which connected me further to the land and I was introduced to the magic of growing. With a thirst for understanding how to grow veg as part of a cyclical reciprocal system, I began work at Middle Ground Growers in 2019. My previous experiences working in health & social care showed me that the most important things to humanity are community and connection to place. I believe that deepening and remembering our relationships to the land will help to heal the ecological damage that has been caused, as well as our societies. I would love to integrate marginalised groups into enjoying the land and provide opportunities to foster these connections.

Sammy Elmore

1634495081_img_2328.jpgGrowing up on an equestrian livery yard I engaged in a variety of practical skills from a young age and soon took on skilled trades in mechanics, restoring vintage cars and  construction work. Later in life my interest began shifting towards a land based livelihood and I started working on organic farms, to apply my practical skills to something positive and purposeful. I now hope to use these skills and deepen my learning of regenerative farming to build an ecological farm for Bath. I’d eventually like to teach and mentor young people to learn from the land and develop practical skills - particularly youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who struggle with the standard schooling system.

Our existing market garden 

1634575113_img_2165_compressed.jpg

We currently have a short term lease for a 2-acre plot in Bathampton. There we co-run a successful market garden called Middle Ground Growers since 2020.  We provide veg boxes for 70 families every week and also supply top restaurants (Oak, Landrace) and local shops (Harvest Natural Foods, SCOOP Wholefoods). 

Middle Ground Growers is a Community Interest Company (CiC) which means we are not doing this for profit but for people. We are interested in growing food and community. We think they go hand in hand. 

We grow following agroecological principles (no-dig, organic methods, permaculture design and ethics and love agroforestry!). We want to build food sovereignty for Bath and further afield by producing food, training the next generation of young farmers and welcoming everyone in the food movement. 

We are proud members of the Landworkers Alliance a union of growers, farmers, foresters and land workers in the UK  (part of La Via Campesina a movement of over 2 millions small scale farmers around the globe✊). 

We live in unique times. Times of incredible planetary change. Time to dream big and be audacious, courageous and create these dreams through concrete actions and determination.✊

Our vision  

Our passion for growing food for community united us to co-purchase 16 acres of land and build a shared vision for Bath's ecological farm: Weston Spring Farm.  

1634495700_weston_spring_farm.jpgImagine visiting a farm of incredible beauty, hundreds of blossoming apple, plum and pear trees, wildflowers and berry bushes, a no dig market garden brimming with nutritious organic vegetables and fields of squash and peas protected from heatwaves and drought by the shade of trees.

Imagine hearing the murmur of water trickling in the brook, bees busying away, the damselflies hovering around the wetland and ponds, the birds nesting in the edible hedgerows. A farm teeming with activity, people from all backgrounds and abilities learning and working together in harmony.

Sounds like a nice utopia? An utopia is merely a world we have not yet invented. Not something impossible.

We dream of a flagship farm project that will inspire many young people to join the agroecological movement and help us build a resilient, inclusive and affordable local food system. 

Do you want to be part of this story?

So far... 

We have purchased a 16 acre pasture in Upper Weston in Bath. 

We have obtained planning permission for a solar barn and two polytunnels. Thank you BANES Council! 

We have also received a grant for planting 10,000 trees from the Forest of Avon Trust. Thanks guys! 

And now what? 

We need your support to fund the first few years of this adventure. 

We need money to build the barn, the market garden, to plant soft fruits and berry bushes, restore the brook and create a thriving ecological wetland.  

Zoom on the farm design 

We have applied whole farm and permaculture design principles and methods to come up with this design. Our approach is rooted in close loop cycles - no waste!- lean farming and regenerative agriculture. 

These are the elements of our design: 

A solar barn - the heart of the farm: equipped with a 12 Kw solar panel system the barn will power the farm machinery, tools, electric bikes, cool room and dry room. The barn is an L-shape design facing the market garden, using locally sourced round timber and larch cladding. Inside we will wash, pack and store produce and prepare veg boxes. We will also have space for workshop for our trainees and apprentices as well as storage space for machinery, bikes and tools.1634575898_img_1776.jpg 

Market Garden - the 5 acre no-dig market garden will comprise of 60 raised beds and 4 'alley-cropped' fields where we will grow a wide range of seasonal vegetables, flowers, seed and staple crops. We will follow organic principles and certification standards and produce enough food for over 400 people (veg boxes, restaurants, shops). We will use hand tools and electric tools (powered tilther) to cultivate healthy and productive soil. We will never use any chemicals on our land.1634575289_img_2105_compressed.jpg 

Fruit & Nut Trees - there will be two main agroforestry orchards. We will grow or have animals between rows of fruit trees. We will plant 400 fruit trees (apple, pears, plums, medlar, quince), 200 nut trees (walnut, sweet chestnuts, hazelnuts) and other species mix in forest gardens (e.g. seabuckthorn, amelanchier). 

1634576210_img_3318_compressed.jpg

Field scale production - between the rows of trees we will cultivate alleys of staple crops such as squash, potatoes, beans and some experimental crops (lentils, asparagus, peas). 

1634576283_img_2143_compressed.jpg

Forest Gardens & Hedgerows - dotted around the site edible mix of plant, shrub and tree species will give year round supply of food (root, berries, leaves), medicine (bark, leaves, flowers) and fibre.  

Ecological Restoration - on the north side of the land we will restore the natural flow of water through the land by digging a reservoir to capture a large volume of water, recreating a meandering brook planted with willows, alders and other water loving plants which will recreate a wetland/humid habitat for insects, amphibians and countless other species.

1634576610_img_1198_compressed.jpg1634576628_img_1197_compressed.jpg

People, Community & Well being - there is no farm without people and so we hope to have a core team of 4 growers/foresters/ecological stewards abut also train a yearly cohort of agroecological trainees and apprentices, work with local schools and organizations on be-spoke workshops and activities for all ages, background and abilities. 

1634576751_img_1729_compressed.jpg


How much does it cost? ⏳

We need to raise £95,000 in total. It sounds a lot but this is the bare minimum to build the farm. 

We have spent already £210,000 in the acquisition of the land, planning and other start up costs. 


Here is a breakdown of the cost of the farm project:

- Solar barn (£30,000): Foundations, local timber posts, larch cladding, roof sheets, 

- Polytunnels (£5,000) purchasing and building 2 poly tunnels (5x18m) for indoor propagation, extended growing season and crop diversity. 

- Market garden (£15,000): Small tractor for farm operations, compost, manure, hand tools (Electric tilther, Earthway seeder, hoes, forks, rake etc.), materials (string, poles, wire).

- Ecological restoration (£5,000): Water survey, ecological surveys, Hiring a digger for 2 weeks to create ponds and wetland, materials and wetland plants

-Staff/labour (£40,000): for year 1 the labour required to set up and manage the farm is equivalent to 2 full time incomes. In subsequent years this cost will be covered by the farm income through veg box sales. 

Join us for Live Q&A Sessions 

Weston Spring Farm Launch event 

Sunday Oct 31st at 06:00 PM London

Zoom link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/75879445421?pwd=YWE5SnlCN1E0eHpBQWFxMVUwVGRTZz09 

Meeting ID: 758 7944 5421 // Passcode: Weston


Monthly Q&A Zoom session with the co-founders:

Sunday  Nov 7, 2021 06:00 PM

Sunday Dec 5, 2021 06:00 PM

Zoom link:  https://us04web.zoom.us/j/71196753549?pwd=bVlOK3RYSFFRd0Zmbk91WTFyUlJRUT09

Meeting ID: 711 9675 3549 // Passcode: Weston



Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

£20 Reward

A shout out on social media and a MASSIVE thank you from all of us.

£50 or more

12 of 100 claimed

£50 reward

A personalised MGG thank you postcard

£100 or more

Weston Spring Farm Calendar

A seasonal calendar with photos from the farm and home-growing tips for every month.

£150 or more

21 of 600 claimed

Name a fruit tree

A tree in our orchard named after yourself or a loved one

£250 or more

Farm Tour

A group farm tour and lunch from the land at Weston Spring Farm with the crew.

£300 or more

2 of 20 claimed

Scything masterclass with Xavier and Keith!

Free ticket to one of Xavier and Keiths scything masterclasses - learn the ancient art of land stewardship including practical skills to manage a farm/garden/estate with simple tools.

£400 or more

Name a bench!

A Weston Spring Farm bench plaque with the name of your choice

£400 or more

5 of 8 claimed

Head chef demo and dining event

Join Rob at Landrace restaurant and our Middle Ground Grower Hamish for a for a journey into transforming raw ingredients from the field to a first class dish! Hamish Evans will outline the story of the food, how and where it is grown, followed by a cooking masterclass from Rob Sachev and of course plenty of tasting and dining along the way sampling the local flavours, wines and colours.

£500 or more

Weekend Workshop!

A gift voucher to attend one of our weekend workshops on permaculture, no-dig, agroforestry or market gardening. Including a seasonal lunch from the land and farm tour.

£5,000 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Tutoring and mentorship

4 day sessions of personal coaching from our head grower to support your farming/growing journey covering a range of topics specialised to your requirements e.g. establishing a market garden and enterprise, starting a permaculture farm, cooperative farming, how to grow your own.

£100 or more

2 of 2 claimed

SCOOP zero-waste goody bag!

A hamper of products from SCOOP WHOLEFOODS to inspire a zero-waste home and kitchen - including stainless steel water bottle, lunchbox, thermos, Wholefoods and tasty snacks.

£175 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Harvest Wholefoods hamper

A hamper of goodies from harvest including zero waste products, eco bathroom products (soap, bamboo toothbrush) and tasty treats!

£225 or more

5 of 5 claimed

Local food hamper

A hamper of local food from Middle ground growers and our partner farms - full of seasonal flavours, fruits, products (e.g. our apple juice, cider vinegar, jam) and more!

£350 or more

1 of 1 claimed

5 course meal for two at Oak Restaurant

One of our key partners oak restaurant are offering a 5 course feast from beautifully prepared local regenerative ingredients - a real delight for the senses and tastebuds! Head chef Pete Ellis will talk you through the impressively crafted menu from the middle ground growers field to plate

£1,000 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Name a polytunnel!

One of our poly tunnels will be named in your honour, or after a loved one, or a fun name of your choice ;-) A hand carved wooden plaque on entrance to the tunnel

Show your support

Payment and personal details are protected