Promoting access to fresh, healthy, sustainable food while addressing local and international food security issues.
Introducing Sutton Community Farm (SCF) – a social enterprise incubated by Bioregional
Initiated by Bioregional in 2010, London’s largest community farm was born and continues to grow from strength to strength, providing a shared space for people to cultivate skills, grow food and make friends outdoors in the quiet hills of Surrey. The farm is a hub of social activity however, and in the last year have hosted a Harvest Festival, three pop-up banquets, a pizza party for volunteers, and three food-growing related workshops.
The aim of the farm is simple:
- To increase local food supply, grown using organic principles;
- To create inclusive, shared spaces for the community to cultivate skills;
- To be community-led and not-for-profit;
- To achieve economic stability, supporting land-based employment.
In the context of these health challenges, food choice is intrinsically linked to our health and the NHS estimates that diet-related illnesses cost the UK £10 billion each year. In Sutton, (according to their freely available business plan) the health stats show some worrying trends:
- 29% Sutton’s Primary School children are overweight, 25% of adults are obese
- 19% of adults have regular physical exercise
- 82% of adults and 63% of children are not getting their ‘five-a-day’
- Increased levels of cancer and cardiovascular disease
With food the largest component of the UK’s ecological footprint, the larger SCF also demonstrates a practical way that increases knowledge and access to healthy eating whilst reducing food miles. As one of the few farms in close proximity to London, SCF is uniquely situated to provide local, low-carbon produce that is picked and packed the same day. Research has found that produce grown at SCF emits an average of 83% less GHGs compared to equivalent supermarket produce. And with a 64% increase in their VegBox sales, (now including local restaurant sales, centred around their microleaf salad line, and sales from farmers market stalls), this shows that there is a healthy appetite for local vegetables grown using permaculture principles.
SCF also works with the community and a network of volunteers to run courses and workshops. The farm welcomes corporate groups, school visits and parent and toddler groups, all orientated around a central purpose of food growing and healthy eating. The farm is looking to grow further and is asking the public if they should explore opening a community farm shop and café in the area. Could you spare a few minutes to let them know what you think?
Sutton Community Farm is a successful social enterprise that supports the local economy and community, promotes a more sustainable food system, and provides the freshest produce available. A perfect example of One Planet Living.