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Examples of Farming Collectives

On a previous blog post, I researched into the what a farming collective is and eventhough I gained some understanding on it, I wanted to look into a few website examples to improve my understanding. However, I struggled with finding different local farming collectives, and the websites I have found, while cover the main elements of farming and food, might not be actual farming collectives in relation to what I need for my project. But a few close examples are better than nothing, and my research can be seen below:

Ourfield

A cooperative co-farming/crop share investment collective grains movement

What is Ourfield?

The company itself is a co-op grains movement that aim to change the way grains are grown forever, which was started in one field collectively farmed by 40 people. That farm was Cherry Farm, in Hertfordshire. In the spring of 2017, a large group of people (41) joined the project to co-invest in a crop. As a group, with a farmer, they decided on what they should grow, how it should be grown and what they should do with the crop. The main aim of Ourfields is a co-operative grains movement seeking to shift our relationship with food and its production, while also working to make the food system a fairer place for farmers.

This farming collective offfers financial and emotional support of investment allows farmers to experiment with different growing methods, learn about new opportunites and better understand public perspectives. But at the same time, the investors share the farmer’s risks and challenges. It’s as much about empathy and sharing the experience, as it is learing about food production.

Nature Friendly Farming Network

Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) is a group of farmers who have come together to champion a way of farming which is sustainable and good for nature. The farmers involved all come from different backgrounds; big and small, organic and convential, but are all passionate about ensuring their countryside is productive and bursting with wildlife. Their aim is to highlight how both farming and nature can go hand in hand. The network itself is open to both farmers and the public and there is no cost to join. Another aim of the NFFN is to raise awareness of nature friendly farming, share insights and experience and work together for better policies for food and farming.

At the moment, it is a critical time for agriculture policy in the UK, decisions made post-brexit could ensure that British farming secures a sustainable future and does far more to help nature survive and thrive. The network itself wants to help its members have a strong voice in these important policy debates. NFFN believes that by working together we can learn more, inspire more people and have a greater influence.

NFFN Manifesto’s

The landscape in the UK is shaped by farming, yet not all change in recent times has been desirable; soils have been depleted, water courses degraded and nature has struggled to cope with the pace of change. NFFN has seen decline in over 600 farmland species over the last 50 years, however, many farms are proving this wrong. Soils are slowly being restored, nature is thriving and if more follow this lead, the declines could be reversed. With over 70% of the UK being farmland, NFFN wants to act now to deliver for wildlife at a landscape scale. Their manifesto seeks to unite the many farmers who are passionate about wildlife and sustainable farming by providing a colelctive way forward.

What will NFFN do?

  • They will engender a strong community which will provide a strong voice for regenerative nature friendly farming
  • They believe agriculture needs to be profitable and sustainable, and farmers should recieve adequate payments
  • They are committed to demonstrate to the wider public what farmers can do to help wildlife, the environment and climate whilst still producing plentiful quality produce
  • They will seek to build markets for nature friendly farming products
  • They will encourage transparency in food supply chains to allow people to make informed sustainable food choices
  • They will demonstrate to decision makers the value of sustainable nature friendly farming to ensure there is support within government and the supply chain
  • They are committed to securing farming policies to support wildlife, sustainable agriculture and fairness for farmers
  • They will work to end damaging policies and practices and secure the multiple benefits of sustainable nature friendly farming
  • They will build a knowledge base, share research and offer advice, support and training
  • They will explore innovative and improved ways of achieving agronomic, environmental and socal benefits, whilst retaining valued aspects of tradition

OrganicLea

A workers’ cooperative growing food on London’s edge in the Lea Valley

What is OrganieLea?

OrganicLea launched a ‘Farm Start’ project in 2015 as part if their work towards a more socially and environmentally just food system for all. The project itself offers support, coordinating and enabling the creation of new grow-to-sell food growing projects. One of their aims is to be just one amongst hundreds of similar projects within London and beyond.

Farm Start was created out of the desire to address various specific issues, alongside their wider system change goals. Many skilled growers come through our training and volunteering pathways, and they want them to be able to find meaningful employment within community food growing projects. In addition to this, OrganicLea is committed to buying in any extra produce (beyond what they can grow themselves for their box scheme and market stalls) from small-scale and ethical producers who are as local as can be. The demand for their produce is huge and they want to be able to meet the demand, or support others to meet it directly, rather than seeing potential customers going to less sustainable producers instead. OrganicLea soon found that their farm starters all had diverse needs. For example, A group of four needed all sorts of support in order to form a cooperative, others needed small spaces to incubate big ideas from.

What makes a piece of land suitable for a OrganicLea Farm Start project?

  • At least ½ acre-sized plots of land suitable for horticultural use (although some smaller plots can be real gems and we are happy to re-build soils too)
  • Good drainage
  • South(ish) aspect
  • Vehicle access / hard standing area
  • Indoor covered space for potential office / tool sheds / machinery sheds / packing sheds (or hard standing for creation thereof)
  • Water points for irrigation or potential to bring in water
  • Electricity or the potential to bring in electricity (for office / packing area).
  • Covered growing space (polytunnels or glasshouses) ideal, though we can bring these in.
  • Wind breaks / hedges (or potential for)
  • Within 1 hour’s travel from OrganicLea’s Hawkwood Community Market Garden

UK Urban AgriTech Collective

This website was slightly different, but I decided to research it because I was interested in their logo design which you can see further below.

The UK Urban AgriTech collective (UKUAT) brings together the UK’s key players in modern agricultural technologies. They are a cross-industry group devoted to promoting urban agtech as a solution for food and environemntal crises. They influence policy by sharing information, educating and communicating practioner needs as one. They promote the uptake of agtech in urban and peri-urban settings by uniting to attract funding and customers.

Misson

To mobilise and benefit the UK Urban AgriTech Community

Vision

To utilise Urban Agritech as a tool to achieve greater sustainability & resilience in the UK food system. Expanding the horizons of Urban Agritech to better inform communities across the UK.

Key Activity Areas

  • Policy and Advocacy
    • UKUAT will encourage, enable and facilitate the creation of policy frameworks which meet the needs of urban agritech industry and projects. In so doing, it will give the industry a voice in wider governmental agricultural policy.
  • Education and Outreach
    • UKUAT will provide an education platform for running meaningful outreach projects, by creating, leading and delivering education sessions that inform and inspire the next generation of farmers, agriculturalists and consumers. Each member takes responsibility for being a pioneer in the Urb Ag movement and a (thought) leader in their field.
  • Research and Development
    • UKUAT will act as an informational exchange hub. Through the appropriate sharing of prior research, and collaboration on research projects, UKUAT will build a repository of knowledge, for the benefit of both existing and new entrants to the industry.
  • Publicity and Promotion
    • UKUAT will act as a platform for companies to increase their individual personal reach and to improve the image of the industry. Such a well-connected (locally and globally) body will enable both small voices and big voices to be given equal exposure/footing on the platform.
  • Shared Resources and Knowledge
    • UKUAT ill act as a platform for sharing knowledge and resources between members. This will speed up research, reduce replication of work, add peer review principles to commercial research and ultimately improve legitimacy of the industry.
  • Funding and Consortia
    • UKUAT will inform members about future funding opportunities, advise on funding routes and enable joint bids to be submitted to increase their chances of success. Members will also inform one another of developments.
  • Events and Industry News
    • UKUAT will establish a presence at key industry events and provide relevant industry news about (and to) its members.

Interesting Logos from the Collectives Above:

Logo for Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN)

This logo holds a greater sense of what a farming collective logo (like the one I have to design) should look like. The icon itself is a strong image of joining forces with different farms, and also signifies the main theme of organic due to the varied animal silhouettes – specifically the butterflies which act as a beneficial insect for the farm by keeping pests away. The overall shape of a water droplet signifies the importance of water, especially as it is greatly used and needed on a farm to help the growth of crops. The colours are very subtle, and hold clear connections to the farm life as they are natural colours and also highlight a classic farming land depiction – yellow ground for crop, green for fields and blue for the sky – a very picturesque yet abstract portrayal for a farming collective. The animal silhouettes used within the waterdroplet are displayed in a block white effect, which suggests a more positive and pure way of life – no mistreatment or pesticides used on the animals or farm. The overall design suggests that it will work well at any scale because the detial while limited is very bold, suggesting that the logo could still be effective at a smaller scale. As for the typographic element of the logo, which again portrays a very clear and precise message for the overall theme of the farming collective. Each word in the logo seems to connect, while also holding a stronger connection to the second – the words ‘nature’ and ‘farming’ as well as ‘friendly’ and ‘network’ while not next to each other, work together as suggesting the theme and aims for the farming collective. The use of rotating the bold words and the rotating colours – green, brown, green and brown act as a catalyst for the audience to connect the mentioned words above together. As for the colours used, both green and brown remain clear connotations of nature and the natural world, which strengthen the overall message for the collective. The logo as a whole works well, and is very effective to the audience at highlighting the importance of the farming collective.

UKUAT_Logo_Medium.png
Logo for UK Urban AgriTech Collective

Eventhough this collective holds very little in the way of a organic farming, the logo is still very effective, and well displays the meaning of the company as an icon. From my research, its clear to me that this collective focuses more on the science and financial side of farming, and while this area is important, its not what I need for my brand. However, the logo is very clear and precise in portraying the connection between town and farm. The main icon of the logo is a block creation of a series of sky-scrapers, drawn in such a way that defines a 3D layout. The icon itself is very simple, but the simplistic essence of the logo works in any size format and can easily be realised as a sky-scraper collection. As for the many dots behind the buildings, I can only assume that they are meant to represent the the farming side of the collective. The green is a clear portrayal of nature and the natural world, whereas the grey used for the sky-scrapers highlights a more man-made and machine based elements – which were referenced within the research. Moving away from the icon, the typography used for this logo is very modern, which connects to the overall message of the company. The entire typographical element connects well to the logo because it matches the colours used, and cleary defines the words of ‘urban’ (written in grey) and ‘agritech’ (written in green).


Overall, this research was quite valuable and helped to improve my knowledge of farming collectives. Not only this, but the analysis of the logos really helped to determine what are the most imporant elements to try and put into my own designs. For example, focusing on natural colours is a very simple yet effective way to promote nature and the natural world but in my case, I think I will be taking inspiration from the colours I have drawn out within my moodboards, hopefully connecting my logo to the farms but in a more abstract manner. From this research, I am slowly gaining more inspiration and potential final idea for the completed project.

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