Kindling Trust and the Land Army


Kindling Trust, a small Manchester-based enterprise, can hardly be said to lack ambition. Put simply, its aim to to transform the food supply chains of its host city and create an exemplar of a just and ecologically sustainable society for others to follow.

Founded by best mates, Chris Walsh and Helen Woodcock and run by the two of them with support from Debbie Clarke and Emily Farrow as fellow directors and an amazing little team of core staff. Kindling is working with communities, farmers, practitioners, activists, and policy makers to create and support progressive food projects around the city of Manchester. Whilst highly practical in delivery, the work is inspired and guided by a radical perspective that identifies the need for social change if we are to achieve a just and ecologically stable society.  As such the work closely mirrors the Food Sovereignty approach developed by small-scale farmers worldwide. The rural base which Kindling hope to create will include pioneering systems for producing & distributing food, a residential centre for social change and a rural enterprise zone, plus low-impact housing for members.

Central to Kindling’s efforts right now is a FarmStart, an organic farm incubator programme, providing training and access to a landstarter farm on which quarter acre plots are leased to would-be farmers so that they can begin to build their ‘would-be’ life – a major innovation when the price of land across the UK is so prohibitive to new farming entrants. Kindling now have two sites supporting Farm Start, one at Abbey Leys Farm near Knutsford in Cheshire – the first farm start operation of any sort in the UK – and the other at Woodbank Memorial Park in the centre of Stockport where Kindling have taken over the old  municipal nursery site. Kindling’s emergent farmers are also supported by training courses and by the Kindling Trust’s Land Army, a team of keen voluntary workers from across Manchester and whose activities are co-ordinated through the Kindling office..  I joined the Land Army on a Saturday work-day at the starter site at Abbey Leys Farm near Knutsford in Cheshire. Here, practising what they preach, Chris and Helen maintain their own quarter acre plot just to prove it can be handled part time, and to understand the issues faced by  their would-be farmers.  An amazing day out with a fabulous group of people!

To understand more about Kindling Trust, its aims and objectives and its principles – including the ideas embraced in Food Sovereignty –  click here to access the Trust’s website. Chris, Helen, Debbie and Emily are supported by a team of some eight or so project and support staff based in their offices in Ancoats and on their now various production sites.

Note: In 2018 Kindling will be giving the Abbey Leys site a years break  (to deal with the couch grass, give the soil a well earned rest and evaluate the programme). Woodbank FarmStart will be carrying on as normal.

Click here to buy the book Unlikely Heroes – the documentary photobook about the current agrarian renaissance in England and Wales, and featuring Chris and Helen.

[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons.  Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC!]

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