The cold water thrown on Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy by Boris Johnson’s government through its Food Strategy white paper announced this week has yet again highlighted the crucial role that entrepreneurial people and communities have in creating the change they want to see in the food and farming system.
Despite the continuing absence of policy support and an economic framework that concentrates power and influence in the hands of the few, positive change is happening. Here at the Real Farming Trust we want to enable and support that change in whatever way we can. This is why we set up LEAP, a new and innovative funding programme for agroecological and community food businesses.
Since LEAP launched in 2019, we have invested over £800,000 into 18 amazing businesses, from small CSAs like Soul Farm and Goonown Growers to large ethical retailers such as Locavore and Sole of Discretion.
We’ve supported mushroom growers, care farms, food waste cafés, box schemes, micro-dairies and everything in between. We have provided these businesses with loans of between £20,000-£100,000 side by side with grants of up to £18,000 and up to £10,000 worth of business advice and support.
This has enabled them to invest in their businesses in a multitude of ways – from new polytunnels, packing sheds, delivery vehicles, tools and machinery to websites, IT and new members of staff.
The funding programme closes at the end of 2022 but we still have some funds available, and encourage businesses to apply by 30 June. The final window for applications is at the end of September.