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

New Grower Pathways

New Grower Pathways

As part of OrganicLea’s Mission to “produce and distribute food and plants locally, and inspire and support others to do the same”, we have developed a range of “pathways” for those who have an interest in turning their passion for organic/ agroecological  food production into a livelihood.


The pathway often begins with volunteering, taking a Horticulture course, and applying for a voluntary traineeship with us.


People who have completed a traineeship, a Workbased level 2 qualification, or another work placement with us, may apply to our paid Apprenticeship Programme.


For a number of years we have run a Farmstart programme, and are proud to be founder members of Landworkers’ Alliance’s Farmstart Network. Farmstarts are an important entry route into farming, and fill a gap in opportunities for new entrants. They provide an opportunity for people to test their farming and growing ideas in a protected environment, whilst building the knowledge, skills, confidence and experience to progress to their own farm or market garden. How a Farmstart operates and the level of support available to new entrants can vary greatly, however all farmstarts provide:
– access to land and equipment
– routes to market
– business support, training or mentoring

Due to limitations of funding and land availability, Farmstart opportunities with us arise on an occasional basis, and are promoted only to people currently on our New Grower Pathway. Examples of our Farmstart work include our current Kitchen Gardens scheme, and our historic support for now established vegetable growers like Eves Hill Veg Co and Stort Valley. We also work closely with Wolves Lane to support new grower initiatives in Haringay.

Our half-acre Spring Field Intensive Market Garden at Hawkwood demonstrates how a small-scale grower might generate a land-based livelihood through the use of  “high-input high-output” techniques and crops.

Business skills course

We are hoping in the future to run an advanced course for new growers, which will cover almost everything about starting up a land-based enterprise, apart from the growing skills & knowledge! If you’d like to register interest in this, please email courses[@]organiclea.org.uk.

Whilst organisations like ours are doing all we can to support new and aspiring growers, such work would be much easier and more successful if we had a better policy environment to work in; one which put communities and the environment at the heart of economic policy, including giving people who wish to work the land for common good the opportunities and support they deserve. We work for change gives some pointers as to how you can learn more about this, and get involved in transforming the food system.

If you have, or know someone that has, land, half an acre or more, within reach of London, that we could buy or rent for food growing, with reasonable security of tenure, we would love to hear from you.

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