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Incubator farms


Incubator farm, training, professional growers, new business in agriculture, primary production, self-sufficiency and organic agriculture.


Kindling Trust FarmStart is located outside of Manchester in the northwest of England. It was the first organic incubator farm to be established in the UK. FarmStart provides a pathway into agriculture for people without any prior experience, offering access to affordable land, shared tools and farming equipment, education, and access to markets. The structure of the FarmStart programme provides participants with the opportunity to build up their competencies and experiment with organic growing on a larger scale.


In a time when the UK is facing the problem of an aging farming population, FarmStart provides an opportunity for people who don’t come from farming families to enter into commercial growing and contribute to a generational shift in agriculture. The foundation behind the programme – Kindling Trust – takes a holistic approach to creating more equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems (see the foundation’s Theory of Change).The foundation works strategically to influence production, distribution, and markets/demand through a diverse range of interconnected projects. In addition to FarmStart, the foundation enlists volunteers to help on the farms during the most hectic times of the season and uses cooperative models for the delivery of fresh, organic vegetables to residents, companies, and schools in Manchester. The foundation’s projects, as well as its collaboration arrangements with the food store Unicorn provide growers with access to sales channels and marketing opportunities to reach customers with their products. Kindling Trust’s activities create cooperation between local food businesses, engaged residents and public bodies to strengthen the local food system.


The FarmStart model originates from the USA and Canada. The oldest incubator farms in Northern America have been operating for more than 30 years. In Europe, the RENETA (Réseau National des Espaces-Test Agricoles) national network has supported the development of incubator farms in France since 2007. The Kindling Trust established the first FarmStart project in the UK in 2013. Since then, the Landworkers’ Alliance has established a network to facilitate the distribution of information and the spread of the FarmStart model in the UK.


Kindling Trust FarmStart is located on a farm where new growers have access to land and infrastructure for cultivation of vegetables in different ways. The farm, known as the Woodbank Community Food Hub, is in Stockport 12 km southeast of Manchester and offers field cultivation and cultivation in high tunnels of a wide variety of organically certified vegetables. The FarmStart program lasts from 1 year (level 1) up to 3 years (level 3) and involves both physical work on the commercially operated farm, as well as education and various lectures on how to work as a professional grower. Participants in the programme have access to local networks, such as “Feeding Manchester”, which brings together farmers, local food projects, activists, politicians, teachers, independent food stores and restaurants. Access to these networks helps participants develop their business over the long term.




MatLust is an EU project with the purpose of strengthening growth and sustainability within the food industry in the Stockholm region. In MatLust’s transnational component we are looking for best practice and good examples in the Baltic Sea region. Areas of interest are sustainable business models for SME in the food sector, innovative applications of public procurement and Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and initiatives for more resilient food systems. Good examples are documented and spread via MatLust's website and events.

Maria Micha

Forskningsrelaterade samarbeten, MatLust Utvecklingsnod samt Projektledare, Mineralskiftet
Tel: 08-523 064 40

Uppdaterad: 23 mars 2023
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