Fields of oats growing in and around the South Hams might not seem like a particularly unusual sight, but up until now the only ones to enjoy the end product were four-legged! Despite grains such as oats and barley growing very well in the wet and mild South West, they are all destined for animal fodder, as the nearest plant to process them for human consumption is hundreds of miles away.
A crowdfunding campaign that ran throughout May aimed to address this, raising money to buy equipment so grains can be grown, stored and processed within the area, under the label Grown in Totnes. A Transition Town Totnes project, Grown in Totnes is working with farmers to produce grains and pulses that are truly local, starting with oats. The vision is to expand the range of local food available for human consumption to include staple store-cupboard foods, not just meat, dairy and vegetables.
Holly Tiffen from Transition Town Totnes said “In Totnes we have many shops selling pulses and grains that come from all over the world, but they rarely originate from the UK let alone Devon. Grown in Totnes is all about increasing the range of local food available to the Totnes area. Our local farmers mainly produce meat and dairy. We need more variety for a healthy, balanced and climate sensitive diet.”
Grown in Totnes has teamed up with a local farmer who is growing four acres of oats this year, with the expectation of growing more next year, and bringing in other farms and crops as the project develops into an independent community interest company. Small-scale equipment is needed for processing, such as a de-huller, polisher and grain store. To this end the project team ran a range of oaty events in May, including stalls at Totnes markets on Fridays and Saturdays, an Oat Cuisine four course dinner for 30 people, a tour of the New Lion Brewery and tasters of their crafted mild made with oats, a Magic porridge pot competition and porridge jousting at Dartington Hall’s Community Day (see video below), and a finale at the Bay Horse pub, who hosted an oat themed BBQ with NLB’s oaty mild.
The project’s target was £25,000. A minimum of £6,000 needed to be raised in order to receive a further £6,000 match funding from the A Team Challenge Fund. The final day of the campaign saw a flurry of pledges, including an anonymous one of £10,000; together these just tipped the total over £26,000! “This fantastic response is a very real endorsement for the project by the community and it gives me a huge sense of faith in our ambitious, innovative vision,” Holly enthused. “Thank you, to everyone who contributed, for demonstrating your support for this vision either financially or with your time and enthusiasm.”
“Our long-term aim is to expand the project to include other grains, legumes and eventually nuts and edible oils; all crops with a high carbon footprint that are not associated with the local food movement.” says Holly. “Look out for our oats, which will be for sale in local shops this winter.”
The next stages are to discuss with interested local groups, organisations and individuals their grain and pulse processing needs, as Grown in Totnes would like the equipment they buy to be used widely beyond the project. The team is also looking for experts to guide and support the development of this exciting enterprise, including engineers, farmers, business advisors and mentors.
Please get in touch if you would like to involved in any way.
For more information on the crowdfunding campaign and oaty events click here.
For other information please contact Holly Tiffen at email@example.com or 07857 811994