Keats Community Organics

Help Us Build Britain's Future Urban Farms

We did it!

On 19th May 2014 we successfully raised £10,500 of £10,000 target with 149 supporters in 56 days

Who we are

Keats Community Organics is a new, organically certified urban farm situated on a five acre plot of land on the edge of a housing estate in South London.

Consisting of a grow to sell site, a community garden and allotment plots, the farm will be a vibrant community asset. The project will provide local people with freshly harvested produce as well as training, horticultural therapy, volunteer opportunities, employment and allotment spaces.

Our mission is to build a more resilient food system for the benefit of local people and the environment and to be a model of economically and environmentally sustainable urban farming. We will manage the land in an ecologically friendly way that protects the soil and benefits wildlife and our model will provide a working alternative to conventional agriculture, with its reliance on pesticides, chemicals and fossil fuels.

The project is led by three committed and experienced community food growers, Jack Astbury, Ed Harkness and Christina Harrison. We will be engaging as many people as possible to take part in food growing on all levels, with opportunities to get involved including weekly volunteer sessions, workshops, courses, and an apprenticeship program training young people to become commercial urban food growers.

Building the community allotments on the Big Dig Day at Keats Community organics

What we will do

Keats Community Organics has six principal aims:

  • To increase the amount of locally grown organic food available in London - our produce will be sold through a number of different outlets including restaurants, shops, schools and direct to local people

  • To train young urban food growers - we will offer 4 apprentice positions each year to provide training and help support the urban growing movement

  • To provide horticultural therapy - we will provide short and long term volunteer opportunities for people with mental and physical disabilities as well as to schools and community groups

  • To provide local people with education in food growing and sustainable living - the farm will host weekly volunteer days, work with local schools to offer hosted visits and offer a wide range of horticultural courses to the general public

  • To provide allotment spaces for local people to grow food - we will provide 24 allotment spaces and a community garden for use by local people living on the estate adjacent to the farm

  • To be a replicable model of financially viable urban farming - we will be financially sustainable through a combination of growing and selling organically certified produce and delivering educational and therapeutic progams

The field where we will be growing our veg

How we will do it

  • Erect two polytunnels and 20 no dig outside beds

  • Sell organically certified produce through local shops, restaurants, a market stall and direct to local people

  • Recruit and train 4 apprentice food growers a year

  • Run twice weekly horticultural therapy sessions for people with disabilities

  • Hold regular volunteer days where people can come and learn about organic food production and help our on the farm

  • Offer paid courses in organic agriculture and sustainable living

  • Work with local people to create the community allotments and garden

  • Partner with two established local organisations Dig this Nursery and Animal Days out to ensure the project meets local needs

Putting up a polytunnel on one of our previous projects

Where we are at

So far we have secured a lease for the land, and renewed its organic certification with the Soil Association. We have begun advertising our produce to local restaurants, markets, shops, and an organic box scheme, which are all keen to buy our vegetables. We have developed a range of workshops and courses, which will commence this spring. The horticultural therapy services we are offering have received interest from service user organisations in Bexley and Greenwich. Local residents and a number of local schools and community organisations have expressed their support for the project which was reflected in the high number of people that participated in our first volunteer day on the 22nd of March.

Sharing lunch on the Big Dig Day

How you can help

Funds raised from our Crowdfunder campaign will cover the essential capital costs of the grow-to-sell site and community garden and allotments; a rotavator, a polytunnel, timber, irrigation materials, propagation materials, a delivery bike and trailer and environmentally friendly packaging. Funds raised will also cover some of the running costs of our initial year; a trading licence and market stall, and provisions for our apprentice programme. With these costs covered Keats Community Organics will be well on the way to financial sustainability.

With local residents keen to see the disused land fulfil its potential as a beneficial space for the community to grow and thrive, and with a number of outlets ready to purchase our produce, we really need the project to move forward this summer. Without your support this will not be possible. Please help Keats to make its viable and important contribution to the future of urban farming in Britain and beyond.

 Ed on the front cover of the Jellied Eel promoting Keats!


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