The Loans for Enlightened Agriculture Programme (LEAP) is a new £1.34 million funding initiative developed by the Real Farming Trust to support agroecological food and farming enterprises.

LEAP offers a mix of affordable loans and grants side by side with a comprehensive mentoring programme and a hands-on approach.

Colin Tudge, Trustee of the Real Farming Trust said:

“I am delighted that the Real Farming Trust is able to launch this new programme at the Oxford Real Farming Conference. What better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the conference than to launch a significant new funding programme for our sector? I hope that LEAP will help to create a tipping point at which locally based, democratically owned, agroecological food and farming enterprises are the norm.”

LEAP is specifically looking to support food and farming enterprises that utilise or support agroecological methods of production and are rooted firmly in their own communities trading largely through local markets. As an ‘impact first’ programme, LEAP will prioritise enterprises that have the potential to deliver the greatest social and environmental impact over the long term.

“Our vision is a well-managed and properly capitalized, small, mixed, agroecological farming sector. Generally, we want to pursue small on a large scale, supporting cooperatives, social enterprises and community businesses throughout the value chain from farm to fork” said Robert Fraser, Executive Director of the Real Farming Trust.

LEAP is a new model for financing and supporting food and farming enterprises that puts people and the biosphere at the heart of our food system. LEAP will provide a critical next step for community based agroecological enterprises that have relied on grant funding to date and who have had nowhere to go to finance their onward development.

LEAP is a programme of the Real Farming Trust, in partnership with the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action, the A Team Foundation, the Power to Change Foundation, and the Halleria Trust. The Real Farming Trust is an Access Point for the Reach Fund, which provides grants for investment readiness mentoring.

“We all need to eat. Food provides a really good basis for building a socially useful enterprise. LEAP challenges innovators and entrepreneurs to come forward with ideas for growing, processing and distributing food which are carbon-friendly, employment-generating, affordable, healthy and practical. LEAP will help innovators make a success of their great idea” said Michael Norton, Director of the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action.

For more information, visit our website, email or follow @LEAProgramme on Twitter.