The mission of RFT is to enable the growth of farming and food production practices that are economically sound and democratic, socially just, humane to animals, and promote the long-term protection of natural resources.
-* The Real Farming Trust runs a number of different projects and activities including:
Funding Enlightened Agriculture (FEA) – a network of organisations working to promote and stimulate the growth of enlightened agriculture by bringing together a diverse range of funders who are interested in funding enlightened agricultural projects.
The latest project, Just Growth, is a funding programme aimed at community food projects. It combines different types of funding (loans, grants and community finance) to encourage community ownership and the practice of agroecology.
The Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC); 2016 will be the seventh year of the conference. It has grown from strength to strength and last year attracted 650 delegates. The conference themes include new entrants into farming, economics and politics, pasture-based and low-input livestock systems and science and research.
The Campaign for Real Farming (CRF), acts as a mouthpiece for the agroecology movement.
All Party Parliamentary Group for Agroecology – The Trust helped to found this group and continues to act as an advisor. The group works in the UK parliament to inform parliamentarians about the importance of agroecology.
The Real Farming Trust is a company limited by guarantee (no. 3336839), registered as a charity (no. 1061607)
Just Growth is a new funding programme designed to encourage the growth of community based food and farming projects.
The aim of the programme is to support social enterprises that are producing food in a environmentally and socially just way – hence Just Growth.
FEA is working in partnership with Community and Co-operative Finance (CCF) and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to deliver this project.
Projects can apply for support made up one third loan financing from CCF and one third grant funding from Esmee Fairbairn. The remaining third of the funding has to be raised by the project itself from its local community either through crowdfunding or community shares. The release of the loan and the grant is contingent on the projects raising the necessary community finance.
FEA Pilot Projects
Between October 2013 and January 2015, FEA ran a pilot project (sponsored by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation), supporting over a dozen innovative food and farming enterprises across the UK helping them structure their business, get investment ready and set about raising money for their projects.
The aim of the pilot was to support and promote a selection of projects that have potential to increase agricultural output, adopt sustainable farming methods, create local supply chains, increase employment and revive local communities.
The projects that took part in the pilot included:
HISBe – An alternative supermarket, HISBe (How It Should Be) set up in Brighton as a community interest company
Beacon Farms Ltd – a plan to establish a learning initiative on agricultural land on the outskirts of Bristol
Sarpo Potatoes Ltd – Selling seed potatoes to fund ongoing research into non GM blight resistant potatoes (based in N Wales)
Ecological Land Cooperative – A co-operative set up to buy intensively managed land, subdivide and lease it to people with the skills to manage it ecologically but could not otherwise afford to do so. Read a wonderful blog by one of their smallholders.
Maple Field Milk – An alternative to industrial-scale milk production: a mobile micro-dairy in Hampshire, aiming to be the pilot for a network of such dairies
FarmStart – An incubator farm for new growers to trial their farming business ideas in a low-risk setting on the outskirts of Manchester
Scotland the Bread – A project aiming to re-establish a Scottish flour and bread supply that is healthy, locally controlled and sustainable – by assessing the value of growing ancient grains, alongside developing a skills base for creating bread and markets for lower-protein, lower-gluten, more digestible bread
Rhiw Las – A cooperative in Rhiw Las, Carmarthenshire, wishing to build affordable low impact dwellings on a 21 acre site, with plans for orchard, bee keeping, micro-dairy, CSA scheme, and soft fruits market garden