We are now stretch funding for another £1k to buy a rabbit proof fence for the new site. This will cover the chicken wire and posts, and hire of a mini-digger and driver. My blog post on why they are so important is here.
We are crowdfunding £7000 to relocate Reddy Lane Market Garden, one of only three organic farms in the area, to a great new site on the edge of Manchester.
"Manchester needs more fresh locally grown food."
Your pledge will:
-purchase a commercial scale polytunnel,
-cover the costs of re-establishing the market garden on the new site
-and enable us to run volunteer sessions for the local community
We know we can do it, now we need you! Support us to grow and share our crowdfund!
Who's behind Reddy Lane Market Garden?
Reddy Lane Market Garden was set up in 2013 by Lindsay Whalen. She started writing about the politics of food 15 years ago where she gained a strong understanding of the harm our current food system is doing to the environment, and alternative organic and local systems. After four years writing about food, Lindsay wondered if she could be a grower herself and spent the next 10 years becoming an experienced organic grower.
"We produced 1.7 tonnes of veg from their half-acre site last year. We aim to grow 3 tonnes from the new site in 2019."
Being from Manchester, Lindsay is well-known locally, and a familiar face at Levenshulme market where she has been trading and running her veg box scheme for four years. She loves trading there; her happy customers and their positive feedback keep her going:
According to Christine, Levy Market Manager "Reddy Lane embody what Levenshulme Market was set up to do."
Lindsay's father George has been volunteering for years, and his practical experience has been crucial in getting this far. They produced 1.7 tonnes of veg from their half-acre site last year.
Behind the scenes support comes from a steering group of four who bring their experience of permaculture growing, community activism, educators and research.
Last year Reddy Lane was given notice to quit its site, but sees this challenge as a great opportunity to create the perfect organic growing site for producing local food for Manchester. We launched a search and managed to find land.
"The full costs for the Reddy Lane re-build are actually £22k."
It is not cheap to kit out a small farm. Lindsay is putting £5k in, which will pay for compost for the beds (essential in ‘no-dig’ systems), a storage container for tools, a compost loo and veg packing area, and the first year’s insurance.
To get the site up and running we need £3.5k for a 25m (90ft) x 6m (20ft) commercial scale polytunnel, with ventilation and £3.5k to cover the costs of relocating to the new site; erecting the polytunnel and building other infrastructure for the site; preparing the soil and making beds. Lindsay will run volunteer days for people to have a go at organic growing. We hope to secure a grant for the final £10k, but over-funding the crowdfund would be desirable too!
How will the £7000 be spent?
Our 'no-dig' growing method will improve both crops and the soil.
The first crops will be herbs which will be on sale this Summer, with garlic going into the ground in Autumn. We will be fully operational by 2019, and aim to grow 3 tonnes of organic local veg.
We’ll be using the ‘no-dig’ method which can achieve high yields within a short time. It also preserves and improves the soil and saves time by reducing the need for weeding and irrigation.
Experience tells us that this method will enable us to run a profitable market garden, something that most farms find elusive. By profitable, we mean paying ourselves a living wage, not making mega bucks!
"Local communities should be involved in growing, and be able to enjoy the health benefits that this connection to land and nature can offer."
We want to contribute to learning about organic growing and will use the new site to measure and demonstrate how much food can be grown in half an acre, and share this learning with others. Through writing up and publishing the results, we hope others will recognise the value of smaller scale farming.
''A century ago Greater Manchester boasted a thriving community of market gardens, but they're needed now more than ever. Anyone who genuinely cares about what they eat or where their food comes from really must get behind Lindsay and George; what they're doing is incredibly hard work, and that's even before the veg growing has started! From working with Reddy Lane over the years I've seen for myself what grit and determination they have, and know that the support they get will not be wasted. I'm really looking forward to seeing the new market garden develop, and wish Lindsay and George courage and strength for the exciting times ahead!'' Charlotte Mason, Glebelands City Growers
"Reddy Lane Market Garden has been an integral part of Levenshulme Market, a community-run social enterprise, for over four years. During this time, the Levenshulme community has come to depend on Reddy Lane as one of the only local sources of organically produced food that chimes with their values – from the fresh, seasonal offerings on the stall to the popular veg box scheme. Lindsay, George and Reddy Lane embody what Levenshulme Market was set up to do, which is to support independent, hard-working, ethical small businesses to create a more diverse shopping environment in the heart of Levenshulme" Christine Felton, Market Manager, Levenshulme Market CIC.
"It takes a lot of resilience and dedication to start a veg growing business and make a success of it. Over the last few years Lindsay has proved she has these qualities in abundance, and in the process has brought healthy affordable veg to Levenshulme. Money is always needed to set up a new market garden - putting in vital infrastructure like polytunnels - but loans are often impossible to pay back because food is cheap and profit for a veg grower is hard to come by. So Lindsay deserves as much support as possible to help set up the new site" Rob Alderson, Moss Brook Growers
"Manchester needs more fresh locally grown food. A new market garden in the area would be a good start" Oli Rodker, Ecological Land Co-op
Learn more about Lindsay’s experiences with Reddy Lane in this blog for Big Issue North here.
Why is the polytunnel so expensive?
It’s huge! 27m x 6m! We want to maximise undercover growing, as it brings eight times the income. It has double doors, and side ventilation.
Why can’t you get a loan?
There are higher running costs for the business at the new site which we can cover from selling veg, but we can’t cover the extra expense of repaying a loan too. Due to the risk of crops failing due to pests or weather, taking on a loan is not considered a good option for farming.
Aren’t there loads of organic growing projects in Manchester?
There are lots of great community growing and allotment projects, but none of them have organic certification and are on a commercial scale. There are only two organic farms growing within 10 miles of Levenshulme - we aim to be the third.
Why does it matter that food is grown locally?
It reduces food miles, and means food gets to the consumers fresher and with more nutrition. Brexit highlights the need to produce more food locally, so that we are less reliant on imported food.