An exciting food project called Grown in Totnes has started trading in this South Devon market town, selling processed grains, peas and flours to local shops, bakers and colleges.
It all started with the publication of the Crop Gaps Report, which identified gaps in the area’s local food provision of vegetable protein, grains and oils.
Members of the Transition Town Totnes Food Group went on a mission to supply grains and legumes – beans and peas – all grown, processed and sold within 30 miles of Totnes. They carried out a survey of potential customers using a questionnaire, studied the data in the report, and listed the skills and resources they would need and could access in the town.
Then it was time to gather resources. Fundraising efforts brought in money from a range of sources. The idea was pitched at Reconomy’s Local Entrepreneurs’ Forum, a Totnesian version of Dragons’ Den where local people can pledge time, money and skills, followed by match-funded grants, a crowdfunder that involved porridge jousting competitions, and a generous grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, until enough was raised to rent an industrial unit and buy machinery.
Grain is an internationally traded commodity usually grown at scale for a very competitve market. Devon farmers tend to grow it for feeding their own livestock over winter. Wheat grown in this area has a lower gluten content and isn’t favoured by industrial bakers. Nevertheless, a couple of local farmers grew oats, spelt, and peas for Grown in Totnes in the knowledge they’d get a fair price for their crop, which would normally go for animal feed at a lower price.
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