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Sustain Coronavirus Food Alert Funding and other support

Farming the Future fund

The Farming the Future Fund is responding to Covid-19 coronavirus with an Emergency Response Fund for food and farming. Grants are available to lead organisations that the funding partners (A-Team Foundation, Roddick Foundation, Samworth Foundation or Thirty Percy) have already worked with.

Statement from Farming the Future

We are asking for proposals that will immediately respond to the current crisis and also looks at the long term in order to instil resilience and fortify the movement.

The crisis has laid bare before us, the fragility of our food system - our supply chains are on the point of breaking. This affects you and me. But importantly, this critically affects the vulnerable, those already marginalised, and those experiencing household food insecurity. The Government’s response has been to turn to the supermarkets for help. Ours is to turn to those who have proven themselves as key workers to society. With the assistance of third sector organisations our grants are to go direct to where the change is needed. Our emergency response is to embody the values of the Farming the Future grant-making programme. We respond to the challenges of our time, we instil resilience, and we fortify the Movement. We are asking to receive proposals that work with the following four critical areas:

Loss of workforce

Every farming organisation is shouting from the hilltop that there’s no one to work the land. Our routine seasonal workforce can no longer migrate from Europe and there’s no one appearing to be willing to fill the void. Can communities step up in a time of crisis?

Supply chain reorientation

The industry has shifted literally overnight. Businesses and restaurants are closed. Farmers have lost regular routes to market. People are at home and they are actively seeking direct sales. All of this is proving how independent producers and retailers have a vital role to play in a resilient food system. Once the dust has settled, how can we inform customers to maintain their new relationships with small independent food suppliers?

Supporting the planting season and filling supply gaps

Farmers have one shot a year to get their growing season right. Right now is the time for seeds to go in the ground for this year’s harvest, yet farmers are being greatly preoccupied with fulfilling endless orders. It is predicted that there will be a limited selection of food stuffs over the next year as farmers can no longer plant complicated systems. Additionally, we can expect challenges on our fruit and vegetable supply coming from global trade, if other countries put their own food security first. How does local food production not only plug the gaps but become part of a wider solution?

Access to food

Food banks and other food aid providers have been overwhelmed and unable to meet the increasing demand. We have an emergency on our hands in caring for the medically vulnerable, those already experiencing household food insecurity, and the millions of people who have lost their incomes and find themselves without the means to afford food. The circumstance has not only created the largest care home ever seen, as our vulnerable stay at home, but it is a social crisis impacting marginalised groups considerably exposing the inequalities in our society. Food aid providers are struggling to access food from the supply chain. The army has already been deployed to deliver emergency parcels but these have barely the minimum nutritional value - at a time where our bodies need to be physically able to defend themselves. Can we transform society’s empathy into a situation where healthy and nutritious food is a fundamental right for all?

Grant funding available

All of the above creates a ‘perfect storm’ and we are looking to grant logistical solutions in response. Our method of delivery is simple. It is preferred that proposals are collaborative (but this is not obligatory) and led by a respected member or organisation that one of the collective funders (A-Team Foundation, Roddick Foundation, Samworth Foundation or Thirty Percy) has worked with before. This will allow us to work at speed processing grants and to minimise the additional burden associated with due diligence on organisations at a time where everyone is over-stretched.

The lead organisation will be responsible for the delivery of a project. The grants can be used for running costs of a project that responds to the above themes and/or administrating funds for reimbursement / redistribution to specific key actors. The grant is based on trust that the lead organisation will utilise the grant money to its best ability. We recognise that our landscape and the need to respond will likely shift with the tides of change. Therefore, with written consent, we will allow for the grant to be adapted by the lead organisation during the grant period. 

Naturally, everyone is frantic and we want to remove burden wherever possible. Proposals can be submitted in the applicants preferred format – we will be accepting proposals delivered by a short video (recorded in advance) or as a 1-pager. Funders and advisors will review proposals in two tranches – once at the end of April and again at the end of May. The deadline for submission is therefore: midnight on the 22nd April and midnight on the 22nd May. Additional information may be required which will be achieved through a conference call using Zoom. 

We have ca.£150k - 170k for this responsive fund and so ask that applicants respect this in the amount that they bid for. We are still intending to run the regular Farming the Future grant pool over the summer months and applications for this will still be very much taken within the landscape and context of Covid19.

In solidarity.


Coronavirus Food Alert: Sustain's work on food resilience in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.We are helping secure food for vulnerable people and supporting local emergency responses.

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