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