The results are in! Overwhelming support for Cambridge's first community farm!

The first phase of our open community consultation process is now complete and we are pleased to publish the results today!

147 people joined us at the Horizon Resource Centre, Coldhams Lane, on March 30th, for the launch of our community consultation process on Cambridge’s first community farm; to take a tour of the farm site and hunt for mini-beasts with Rachel Steward from Wild Play and Education and to share their thoughts, ideas, concerns, dreams and aspirations for the farm.

We gathered a huge amount of data - on hundreds of post-it notes stuck on maps of the farm site and flip chart sheets at the Horizon Resource Centre and through the contributions of a further 59 participants who completed the online survey which ran well into the Spring.

Farm design ideas being captured on an aerial image of the community farm site off Barnwell Road.

Farm design ideas being captured on an aerial image of the community farm site off Barnwell Road.

We are enormously grateful to all of those who contributed their time, thoughts, and skills to kick-start the process of co-creating a community farm for Cambridge. The overwhelmingly positive response has been really heartening and we’ve had some great ideas put forward for things that people want to be a feature of their community farm. This has included creating ponds and reservoirs for crop irrigation and to provide habitats for wildlife; beehives and orchards; spaces for socialising, sheltering and keeping warm around a fire; a basic field to plate cafe; safe play spaces for children and practical guidance on ensuring the farm and activities are fully accessible for people with a diverse range of needs. These ideas have all been put into an initial design brief and we are pulling together a design team who will translate this into a community farm design and site plan. Stay tuned while we pull all this together - we’ll come back to you all once we have some visual design drafts to share with you in the autumn.

Meanwhile, there is plenty we need to do to prepare the soil for growing and we’ll be organising some work parties to help with that throughout the autumn and winter. We’ve had a small team clearing ragwort from the site by hand over the last month. It has very pretty yellow flowers but can be harmful to livestock if the seeds get into their feed.

The results of the community consultation have also informed the structure of our not-for-profit social enterprise and we are working with law firm Taylor Vinters to get a charitable foundation and trading subsidiaries established to enable us to access a broad range of funding sources. Once funding has been secured, we will be in a position to employ a Farm Manager, a Community Facilitator, create the infrastructure requested by the community and to buy the equipment necessary to get the project fully up and running for Cambridge. We are also now in contact with a number of prospective funders and local partners who we hope will enable us to reach our £185,000 fundraising target to deliver what the community has called for. Of course, if any of you are keen to support the project, either through your company, grant making organisation or with a personal donation, we would love to hear from you.

We are aiming to raise a portion of our fundraising target - approximately £15,000 - by launching a local crowdfunding campaign later in the autumn. If you are part of a local business that would like to help promote the campaign through their social media channels and contribute any ‘rewards’ that CoFarm can offer as part of the crowdfund - for example, lunch or dinner for two in your pub/restaurant/food truck, a free haircut, shop vouchers or perhaps a bicycle service at your bike shop - please contact our founder, Gavin Shelton at gavin@cofarm.co or on 01223 781200.

You can either access a summary presentation of the consultation results or pour yourself a cup of tea, get comfy and download a copy of the full report (which contains everyone’s anonymised contributions) over here, on our consultation page.

In the meantime - warmest thanks, once again, for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us!

CoFarm

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Spring haircut!

We all feel better for a bit of a spruce up now and again, and we thought it was about time that the field off Coldhams Common we are going to transform into a community farm had a good haircut!

Over the past couple of years, the site has become quite overgrown with tall thistles and shrubs. To tackle 7-acres of thistles with scythes and loppers would have been quite an undertaking - and taken us well into the nesting season for ground nesting birds - so we contracted the City Council to help with ‘topping’ the thistles with tractor-mounted mowers.

Our intention is to invest in a two-wheeled tractor with different attachments for different jobs on the farm, which should be more than enough from now on to help prepare the land for growing and keep on top the thistles that will, of course, be back. As the project starts to gather some momentum and more people get involved, we will also be able to tackle the weeds together by holding regular work parties - good fun as well as good exercise!

The rest that the field has had over the past couple of years will have done the soil some good, as it hasn’t been disturbed at all. It also hasn’t had any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertlilisers sprayed on it and this is how we intend to keep it.