A co-operative of growers and restaurants is turning to the people to help expand its business through a crowdfunding initiative.
Manchester Veg People has launched the campaign on Crowdfunder to raise £16,000, so it can purchase a van and storage facilities. It has spent the past 18 months using shared vans, office and storage space.
The co-operative consortium is a unique initiative that started in 2009 when a group of Manchester organic growers decided to create a fairer distribution model by building new links between growers and buyers.
Worried by the impact of the current food industry, the members of Manchester Veg People were also aiming to prove that food production is a viable way to make a living.
At the time, the Kindling Trust was conducting a research into good models for a sustainable food system in a city. The study revealed there was a gap in terms of local sustainable food supply in the catering sector. Although the co-op wanted to source direct and as locally as possible, large scale caterers needed a single point of contact for ordering and payments.
“The administrative costs and complexity of dealing with many small producers cannot be underestimated for busy caterers — a barrier that the Manchester Veg People co-op could help to overcome,” explains Katie Brandon, Co-ordinator of Manchester Veg People.
The co-operative's first customers were Green Plate caterers, the University of Manchester, Bean and Brush café and The Parlour. It has now seven grower members, 20 buyer members and one worker member.
People can back the crowdfunding campaign by donating anything from £5 to £500 in return for a chance to win various prizes. The rewards include an invitation to meet the farmers, booking a farmer for the day or winning a bag of fresh vegetables.
Manchester Veg People members hope their model will be adopted by other farmers across the UK, leading to national campaign for food revolution. They produced a “how to” guide and are willing to give advice to anyone interested in starting their own schemes.
• The campaign is now live on Crowdfunder and will be run until 20 July. To make a donation go to http://crowdfunder.co.uk/lets_get_the_greater_manchester_food_revolution_moving.