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CoFarm’s first 2021 harvest as crowdfunder takes off

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The first harvested fruit and vegetables have been delivered to Cambridge Sustainable Food – just as the agro-ecology charity’s crowdfunding appeal, which was launched on June 5, has reached the halfway mark.

CoFarm celebrates Charitable status . Picture: Keith Heppell. (48291805)
CoFarm celebrates Charitable status . Picture: Keith Heppell. (48291805)

Around 90 kilos of strawberries, broad beans and chard were harvested from the CoFarm site off Barnwell Road, just ahead of Midsummer Day.

“The demand for food hasn’t dropped off,” said Lisa from Cambridge Sustainable Food as the food was loaded into two vehicles. “Quite the contrary.”

The agro-ecology charity’s first site off Barnwell Road yielded 4.5 tonnes of food for Cambridge food hubs in 2020. It set up the Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising £58,000 – enough to run the basics of the farm for one year, explained founder Gavin Shelton.

“The JustGiving campaign runs until October, because that then goes right up to our birthday on World Food Day,” said Gavin. “That £58k is what it costs to operate for one year, hence the target, which enables us to pay our brilliant growers Pete and Dom, and water and irrigation which we are trying to keep as low as possible.”

The community farm is pursuing a relentlessly sustainable ethos – even after the mains water supply is turned on tomorrow (June 17).

CoFarm’s first 2021 harvest. Picture: Mike Scialom
CoFarm’s first 2021 harvest. Picture: Mike Scialom

“We use as little mains water as possible, as we’ve designed the site to use as much rain water as possible,” comments Gavin. “The ponds on the site will also be designed to capture lots of water across the farm.

“The whole design is for us to make it as sustainable in terms of resources as possible – we use solar harvesting on the farm but other than that we draw as little as we can.”

There are also plans for disabled access.

“The support will be used for rent and improving access, which we need to invest in,” said Gavin, “which will make the site more accessible for everyone, including wheelchair users, whom we haven’t been able to welcome on site yet very easily, and for people with buggies – and improve general access because it’s a mudslide when it rains.”

Of the £31,000 raised to date, Gavin adds: “Our commitment is to be able to support the food hubs this year in collaboration with Cambridge Sustainable Food, which distributes our food to nine outlets around the city.

“We’ve got off to a good start but successful crowdfunds depend on maintaining the momentum so we would like to get to over 60 per cent in the next couple of weeks.”

So far this year CoFarm has been awarded charitable status, held its first family day, has planted heritage trees in a new wooded area, and seeded 90kg of vegetables for in the market garden area.

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