25th APRIL 2016:


Just Growth today announced that the Ecological Land Co-operative and Veg Box People have become the first organisations to receive funds under its innovative new programme. The funding consists of a grant and a loan and requires successful organisations to raise an equivalent amount from their community through crowdfunding or community shares. The grant element is provided by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with loan finance provided by Co-operative and Community Finance.

The Just Growth funding programme supports enterprises that farm in a way that nurtures and protects the environment, helps people take control of their food and enables more people to eat better food. A key aim of the programme is to encourage community ownership.


Clare Horrell, Programme Manager of Just Growth said:

“We are delighted that the Ecological Land Co-operative and Veg Box People have received funding through the Just Growth programme. The mix of grant, loan and community finance is a novel approach to funding community based food and farming projects. Whilst the model does require a lot of work from the projects in terms of preparing solid business plans and raising money from their local community, we hope that those organisations that are successful will also be more resilient and sustainable in the longer term.”


Commenting on their success, Zoe Wangler, Executive Chair of the Ecological Land Co-operative said:

“The funding from Just Growth has enabled us to reduce the price at which we will be able to offer smallholdings in our next development. This will help make the land even more accessible to new entrants to ecological horticulture and mixed farming.”


Rob Alderson from Veg Box People added:

“Just Growth is giving Veg Box People the resources we need to develop fairer markets for new organic growers locally. This is a crucial part of creating a more sustainable and fairer food system for Greater Manchester, and we are really excited to be part of the programme.”




For more info and photos please contact Clare Horrell: tel: 07766 296 245, email: clare@feanetwork.org



Notes to Editors


  1. The Just Growth programme is a project of The Real Farming Trust under its FEA programme. It is run jointly with Co-operative and Community Finance, and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Over the course of 2016 it aims to support 8 projects through a mix of grant, loan and community finance. As well as providing funding, the programme also offers mentoring support to help participating organisations get investment ready and raise funds from their local community.
  2. Ecological Land Co-operative was set up to address the lack of affordable sites for ecological land based livelihoods in England. Their core business revolves around buying land and creating clusters of affordable residential smallholdings. The model allows for smallholders to work and learn together and to provide mutual support. The co-operative retains the freehold on each smallholding in order to protect it for agro-ecological use in perpetuity.
  3. Veg Box People is a fledgling veg box scheme established in June 2015 in partnership with Manchester Veg People (a growers and buyers co-op) and the University of Manchester. It aims to use the funding from the Just Growth programme to increase its customer base within and beyond the university and engage customers with their growers through farm visits and activity days.