City MP drops by as CoFarm tops £100k of food distributed
CoFarm has topped £100k worth of produce grown on its community farm since its 2020 start, so Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner popped along to the Newmarket Road farm to congratulate the team.
Founder Gavin Shelton paid tribute to the farm’s manager, Peter Wrapson, and added: “This year has been the biggest harvest yet - just under 9 tonnes - which is what has helped us hit that £100k milestone. So every year is getting more productive and we’re going from strength to strength.
“In the first couple of seasons we donated everything we grew and last year we started to sell produce at 50 per cent of market rate to co-farmers - the volunteers - and we’re now selling some more through a subscription model at 50 per cent of market rate, so the total is what we’ve donated and what we’ve subsidised. The rates are taken from the Soil Association’s guidance.”
The subscription model is for companies, and one of the first to take up the offer is Illumina, which has already provided CoFarm with benches and volunteers.
“Illumina is proud to support our local communities,” said Sharon Vidal, head of CSR at the life sciences company on Granta Park. “With a mission to improve human health by unlocking the power of the genome, we are reimagining what is possible for human health and the health of our planet.
“Fostering a culture that empowers our employees to give back is integral to our mission and we are thrilled to support the CoFarm initiatives helping make a positive impact toward a more equitable and sustainable future.”
CoFarm also works with Arm - “they sent a big cohort this week” - plus Bidwells, PA Consulting and Sodexo. “The corporate side is picking up and proving very popular,” notes Gavin.
CoFarm has also received a community grant from Cambridge City Council and another grant from the Cambridge Sustainable City fund, which Gavin describes as “very much an enabling factor”.
The urban farm model’s fruit and vegetables are also highly sought-after.
“This season we’ve started supplying two restaurants in Cambridge,” adds Gavin. “It’s Vanderlyle on Mill Road and Restaurant 22 in Chesterton. They’re both top-end restaurants so they know CoFarm is the best they can get, and that’s a nice endorsement because Restaurant 22 got its first Michelin star this year so it’s a very important part of our story. The same produce available at food hubs is also on the plates of a Michelin-starred restaurant - obviously they’ve done something amazing to it, but is a premium-quality model.”
Mr Zeichner said: “I was delighted to join CoFarm as they celebrated such an important milestone. It is great to see how far they have come and I have enjoyed engaging with them.
” I wish Gavin and the team all the best as they continue to go from strength to strength.”