Future funding secured for community growing hub that 'inspired a city'

Thursday 28th May 2015

New figures released today highlight the huge impact Avon Wildlife Trust's community growing hub, Feed Bristol, has had on its community. Initial "seedcorn" funding of c.£264,000 over three years, and approximately £560,000 of volunteer time, is estimated to have generated a social return on investment to the community of c.£6.7 million.

The figures have been produced to support a five-year business plan for Feed Bristol which was produced with assistance from Grant Thornton, and estimate the social return on investment using a methodology developed to examine the cost-benefits of all projects funded through the Big Lottery's Local Food Programme.

Ten local businesses, start-ups and groups have been established and supported at the site and almost 40 volunteers have gone on to obtain employment due to the experience, skills and confidence gained at Feed Bristol.

Quoted in the review, Joy Carey national assessor for Local Food Programme said: “I don’t think any other project I have seen nationally has had such far-reaching impacts beyond just the great work they do on the ground with thousands of people. It has inspired a city and is being referenced as a model in other cities. This is incredible in such a short space of time. It is inspiring people to make and influence change at a strategic level as well.”

The project has been disrupted due to the Metrobus development impacting on the site and surrounding area, and had an uncertain future with its initial three-year funding ending.

Robin Maynard, Director of Community Programmes at Avon Wildlife Trust said: “We are delighted and very grateful for the funding we have secured to date for Feed Bristol’s future. Feed Bristol needs to generate revenue income for part of its funding following its initial seed finance and it is hoped construction for the Metrobus scheme does not detract from the therapeutic groups, business away days, school visits and local people who benefit from this wildlife friendly food growing project.” 

The new business plan for the project has already secured grant support from Cory Environmental Trust in Britain (CETB), Bristol City Council, Local Food and the Sobell Charitable Trust. 

The £49,500 CETB grant will be used over the course of the next three years to support capital works needed to make the site fully accessible and useable all year round, and support the staff involved in engaging community groups at the site and running tailored activities. 

Angela Haymonds, CETB Trust Secretary, said: “The CETB Trustees are delighted to be supporting such a flagship project that has the potential to do even more in the future. By upgrading the accessibility of the site more people will be encouraged to take part, helping to make Feed Bristol a more viable and valuable resource for the local community.”

The Project already benefited from a partnership with landlords Bristol City Council (BCC) who provided £10,000 of the initial seed finance and the project was a case study used in the bid to be European Green Capital. BCC currently provides the site rent-free and is supporting the Project’s transition and next development phase with a grant of £45,000. 

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said “Feed Bristol is an unprecedented success which the Council is proud to have been a partner in from the outset. It has achieved a huge amount to inspire food growing across the city, educate people and support a healthier and happier community. We have to make difficult decisions and compromises to improve Bristol's impacts on the environment but we very much want to continue to support Feed Bristol to give it the best chance of delivering its five year plan.”

Additional funding of £7,780 has also been secured from Local Food for the period April 2015 to March 2016, and £13,500 from the Sobell Charitable Trust for the period April 2015 to March 2018.