Trying a different approach: thinking outside of the box
The Kindling Trust got established because we were worried about the impact of the current food industry on the environment, on our high streets, on small-scale farmers and ultimately ourselves as consumers.
Kindling helped to establish Manchester Veg People to bring together farmers and buyers, to increase understanding and therefore fairness in the food supply chain - making small-scale organic production a viable livelihood once more.
Manchester Veg People is different from a wholesaler in that farmers work with the buyers to plan their crops according to demand. This means that produce is grown especially for the buyers, and is harvested to order – consequently it's much fresher than produce that has been in transit and in storage for a number of days. It also provides a more stable way of working for the farmers, who know they have a market for their produce, and will be paid fairly for it.
Started in 2011, Manchester Veg People has grown from four farmers and two buyers, to eight farmers and forty (plus) business buyers, and we doubling our turnover in 2014/15.
We believe that this increase in turnover not only demonstrates demand for our fresh produce, but also support for this different and exciting way of working – as a co-op involving the farmers, buyers and workers, all with a say in how the enterprise is run.
The Kindling Trust were instrumental in establishing Manchester Veg People and today we have helped establish Veg Box People, building on the support from University of Manchester, to create a fairer and more sustainable food system.
The Kindling Trust and Manchester Veg People have a vision of a Greater Manchester where the freshest, highest quality food is available to everyone: from local cafés and community centres to school dining rooms and hospital wards.
Our food system needs to change, and soon. We don't believe that this will happen through the current mainstream food system, which makes huge profits at the expense of small-scale growers, family farms, our high streets and the health of millions of consumers.
We are working hard to create a small but perfectly formed food supply chain. We are building a viable alternative that shares the risks and rewards and can bring affordable, healthy and sustainable food to everyone.
It is Kindling's ultimate aim is to buy a farm for citizens of Manchester, a farm that works in partnership with countless other farmers around the Northwest to support a new generation of farmers and over the coming years we want you to get involved in making this happen.
We've not got it right yet and we won't have perfected our vision for a few years. But we are confident that we have something special that is worth pursuing. Any tweaks or refinement to our way of working will be motivated by supporting more local farmers and providing the best possible service for our customers. Any changes will be communicated in an honest and timely manner.
But there are a few things we won't compromise on: your produce will always be 100% organic, we will never include food that has been flown to the UK and we will always ensure the farmers are paid a price that covers their true price of production.
The other thing we don't compromise on is our not-for-profit ethos so you can rest assured every penny will be spent wisely. We operate an Open Book policy, so our customers can request to see our accounts at any time (as long as they have been a customer for over 6 months)