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Moss Brook Growers is a pioneering new farming business that aims to develop a model for a low-carbon urban food supply. It offers consumers produce that is fresh, local, and organic. Addressing every aspect of food production and supply, the growers that make up the Moss Brook Growers co-operative aim to be able to offer the most sustainably produced vegetables in Greater Manchester. They aim to do this by creating habitats that encourage biodiversity, rotation-based organic production methods, and applying sustainable practices to other aspects of their work including a compost toilet and biodiesel delivery van.
Key to their work is the provision of learning opportunities. We want to use our work as a means of reconnecting local people to their food. Moss Brook Growers wants people to understand about provenance and production and to be able to make informed food choices. They are doing this through encouraging volunteers to work alongside the growers on the site as well as holding open days for local people to visit and learn about growing. In the future they hope to develop more formal training courses for new growers.
Moss Brook Growers holds a 10-year lease on 21 acres of Grade 2 agricultural land at Glazebury, Lancashire, just to the west of Manchester. Unicorn Grocery, one of the largest and most successful wholefood outlets in the UK, a workers’ co-operative, owns the land that Moss Brook Growers farm and provide them with their main outlet. Moss Brook Growers have however developed some other interesting outlets and they are a founder member of Manchester Veg People - a growers’ and buyers’ co-operative founded in 2011 that already includes amongst its customers the University of Manchester.
In 2009 Moss Brook Growers secured a grant from the Big Lottery’s Making Local Food Work programme via the Food Supply and Distribution strand of that programme, coordinated nationally by Sustain. This two-year grant provided critical revenue and capital funding to get the project started. By September 2011, when the Making Local Food Work grant ended, the project had already accrued some significant achievements including:
This report describes in detail what they have done and what they continue to do in setting up and running the vegetable growing business.
Growing and machinery
Recommended books and resources
Recruitment and labour
Habitat improvement, open days and school visits
Appendices (downloadable templates, provided as a .zip file)