The town of Bentley near Doncaster in Yorkshire is a classic ‘food desert’ – 94% of people live within walking distance of a fast food outlet and there is no independent greengrocer serving the town’s 21,000 strong population.
Set up with the intention of promoting restorative and urban farming to create new opportunities for economic regeneration in the area, Permafuture Agroecology accessed funding through the Bright Ideas Programme to become a co-operative business and to set up a veg box scheme.
With support from their Bright Ideas Fund Advisor, Permafuture were also able to launch a new website and social media accounts, which has been crucial in promoting sales of the boxes.
The veg box scheme sells locally grown produce to local people to tackle some of the issues around food poverty in the area. It offers subsidised boxes for poorer families and also teaches people how to save money by growing their own food at home. Permafuture even buys produce from local members of the community they’ve taught so they can make some extra money.
Along with the veg box service, Permafuture has set up Bentley Urban Farm – the world’s first upcycled market garden where reclaimed materials and ecological growing techniques such as permaculture have been used to repair and maintain a disused horticultural training centre for the benefit of the local community. It has also worked on related ecological projects such as helping to create and protect wildlife and their habitats in the local area.
Commenting on the Bright Ideas funding, Warren Draper from Permafuture, said: “The advice from our Bright Ideas mentor was invaluable, as was the knowledge and advice from the experts who helped guide us. The fact that it allowed us to operate for a period of time without worrying where our salaries were coming from was also very helpful.
“The process was easy and unobtrusive to the daily running of the project. The knowledge base and wider network was invaluable to the development of our project and has shaped what we do for the better.”