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Community farm planned for Cambridge field



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A seven acre community farm that could provide fresh fruit and vegetables for local families is planned for a site close to the city centre.

Community farm founder Gavin Shelton at the site off Barnwell Rd. Picture: Keith Heppell. (8124609)
Community farm founder Gavin Shelton at the site off Barnwell Rd. Picture: Keith Heppell. (8124609)

The project, called CoFarm, is aimed at bringing communities together, providing healthy organic food for local residents and tackling food poverty in the city.

A drop-in consultation session is planned for this weekend where people can give their opinions about what the farm should grow and how it could benefit the community.

CoFarm is a start-up social enterprise founded by Gavin Shelton in January this year. He has already found a stretch of land, but needs funding to get the project off the ground.

He says: “I wanted to develop a community farm partly to tackle food poverty. It is a really big issue, even in an affluent place like Cambridge. There are parts of the city, particularly in areas close to our farm site in Abbey ward where you compare life expectancy with people in Newnham and there is a discrepancy of about ten years. That is closely linked to food poverty.

“When I think about all the things I'm most passionate about - community, biodiversity and supporting people who need a bit of extra help - it just feels like the obvious place to do it is with food.”

The farm site is planned for seven acres of land just off Barnwell Road and next to Coldhams Common. They are seeking funding from local businesses and charities to employ a farm manager and a community facilitator to support the local community in co-creating their own farm. They also need funding for tools, equipment, materials and basic infrastructure required to be able to welcome people onto the farm.

Gavin added that other concerns had driven his desire to launch the farm. He said: “I think the food system as a whole needs fixing - it is broken. I'm slightly concerned about the fact we are all so detached about where our food comes in the UK. It occurs to me it is a golden opportunity to rethink how we do food and farming and put it back in the centre of communities.

Community farm founder Gavin Shelton at the site off Barnwell Rd. Picture: Keith Heppell. (8087419)
Community farm founder Gavin Shelton at the site off Barnwell Rd. Picture: Keith Heppell. (8087419)

“I know that not everyone has time to devote to their own allotment but, by offering whatever time they can manage at a community farm, people can work together to grow food in a sustainable way.”

And he hopes that working together on a communal project, such as growing their own food, will bring local residents together who would not normally meet up.

The consultation event is on Saturday, March 30, from 10am-3pm at Horizon Resource Centre, 285 Coldhams Lane. Visit cofarm.co for more information.

Katie Thornburrow, lead councillor for sustainable food on the city council, welcomed the plans for the farm and said: “It’s a really good learning opportunity for people to discover more about where food comes from and a great way for the community to work together.”



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