Growing communites – expression of interest form

The Growing Communities’ Model

Expression of Interest Form March 2009


The core concept behind the Growing Communities’ model is the use of community-led trading as a practical mechanism for improving our food system: changing it from one which is damaging to one that is more sustainable and resilient.   The model aims to be a flexible model which starts with a basic box scheme and enables other activities to be built on according to local circumstances and aspirations.

We now want to see if we can help other communities to use the Growing Communities’ model in their areas.

“In other words we want to help them to set up box schemes which get as much sustainable food from as close to them as possible, which build community while they’re at it, develop relationships with local farmers and growers, increase urban food production and create sustainable jobs for themselves.  While also managing to enjoy and delight in the whole thing bearing in mind that when it comes down to it, the work involved is often hard, physical and sometimes relentless!”

Julie Brown, Growing Communities, 2009

Over the next few months, we would like to work in close collaboration with one community that is ready to get going shortly (i.e. in the next 2 to 3 months); and also to start providing support to three or four more communities that might consider starting to trade food, or to develop existing food trading schemes during 2009, perhaps by the autumn. This initial phase will be interactive and collaborative, and we hope that the first participants will also be happy to work with us to develop appropriate support for other communities to take part. Beyond autumn 2009, once we know much more about what communities need, Growing Communities aims to be ready to support a much wider range of participants wanting to use the Growing Communities model in their own areas.

But we need to know if there are people who would like to share in this journey. This short Expression of Interest form now seeks to identify communities that would like to work with Growing Communities. It gives you the chance to tell us a little more about what stage you are at, and to help us find people to work with over the coming months. 

Submitting a completed Expression of Interest form doesn’t commit you to anything at this stage, but if you choose to go on to the next stage we will send you a more detailed questionnaire.  This questionnaire, will in effect be the first stage in developing an ‘action plan’ for your community – and we hope it will help you to start thinking about practical issues such as identifying suppliers and customers, developing a marketing plan, and working out how much money you need to get going.  It will also ask for more information about your team, experience and circumstance and will involve some detailed work and research. Growing Communities will offer some support to help you develop this action plan, and by this means we hope to come to a mutual agreement with you about how and when you might want to participate in our more detailed support programme.

We would like to receive completed ‘Expression of Interest’ forms by 5.00pm on the 2nd April 2009.   We will then aim to send out a more detailed questionnaire to those in a position to move ahead by April 13th and we may well contact those who have sent in responses to the  Expressions of Interest during this time.


If your community is not yet ready to participate in 2009, please still complete this form and let us know about your current position. You may be interested to participate a bit later in the process and your answers will help us to plan for that and enable us to keep you in touch with developments over the coming months.


Before filling in this form, we assume that you have read the following documents:

  • Growing Communities’ Proposition
  • Manifesto for Feeding Cities
  • Food Zones
  • Key Principles
  • What We Do


These documents were circulated to workshop participants. If you need more copies please email:

The Growing Communities’ Model

Expression of Interest Form March 2009


  1. What are your initial reactions?


Thinking about the documents listed above, and what you have heard and read about us, what do you think about the Growing Communities’ approach to changing the food system?



In our model, we trade food, support local farmers and also grow some food on our own urban sites.   Which elements of the Growing Communities’ model do you like?







Are there elements of the Growing Communities’ model you have problems with?







What do you want to achieve – what would success look like?



What motivates you and your group – why do you want to start/develop a food trading scheme?



What are the personal circumstances of you and your group? Do you aim to make a living out of this work, or will you volunteer? Do you have other commitments too?







How much work do you and/or your team think you could put into this process over the coming year?




  1. Who will initiate your business?


To make a successful community-led food trading scheme work, we think there needs to be an ‘initiator’ – someone who gets things going. It seems likely that this person (or small team) would:

  • Have values in common with Growing Communities – our expression of this is set out in the Growing Communities’ Proposition and Key Principles.
  • Want to run a business, and more specifically want to run a box scheme (or, if they are not the right person to run the box scheme, know someone who is).
  • Enjoy dealing with numbers, business planning and problem-solving.
  • Be well networked in the local area.
  • Be good at influencing, persuading and mobilising people.
  • Have some experience, interest or affinity with retail, selling, marketing and promoting either products or ideas.


So, bearing in mind the attributes above, our first questions are: Does this sound like you? If not, who will initiate your planned business, and have they expressed an interest in running an environmentally and socially motivated food business?



Tell us more about you (or them) and your (or their) interest:



Is there a core group of people interested in helping initiate the business? Who are they?



What sorts of skills do they have? And does anyone have an interest or affinity with retail, marketing or selling products or ideas?




Have you talked with people in your community about your plans? How have they responded?







  1. What stage are you at?


If you did receive support from Growing Communities to help develop your local food trading scheme, there are a number of ways to do so. We are currently exploring different types of support, and hope to tailor that support according to the needs of different communities.

In this question, let us know which of the following descriptions best fits you and your community. You can add comments if you wish. You can, if you wish, also cross out any aspects of your chosen description that do not apply.


  • Extremely interested and would like to work with Growing Communities as soon as possible in 2009. Our community has already shown some interest, there is a small group of people who will take the initiative. We have some money and have identified premises. We are already active, or almost ready to go.  ¨  Please tick
Any comments?


  • Very interested and would like to work with Growing Communities fairly soon in 2009, possibly with a view to starting (or expanding) trading in the autumn. We’ve started to think about things like finance and premises. Our community has already shown some interest, there is a small group of people who will take the initiative.  ¨  Please tick
Any comments?


  • Very interested and would like to work with Growing Communities a bit later in 2009, with a view to starting (or expanding) trading later in the year, or in 2010. Our community has begun to show interest. We have some thoughts about things like finance and premises, but there is still lots to think about. There are one or two people who might take the initiative.  ¨  Please tick
Any comments?


  • Quite interested and may like to work with Growing Communities at a later date, but need to have more conversations with the community and my group to work out if this is something for us. Talk of finances and premises is further down the line.  ¨  Please tick
Any comments?


  • Interested in keeping in touch, participating in a web forum and / or receiving support materials as they emerge via the website and email.    ¨  Please tick
Any comments?


  • I have other food project plans but they do not match the Growing Communities model.  ¨  Please tick
Please describe:


  • Other   ¨ Please tick
Please describe:



4.   How quickly would you want to get going?

Here are two broad scenarios:

a)      Working quickly (say, setting up a food trading scheme within a few months) puts more pressure on people and time. Early on, you’d probably need to be sure of access to money and premises, and a ready supply of voluntary labour and willing customers.

b)      Working slower (say, setting up a food trading scheme over the course of 9 months to a year) takes off the pressure, but means a longer commitment before you can start earning income. In the first year, you’d probably need less money, but you’d still need to gain premises, attract volunteers and willing customers to keep up the momentum.

So the question is: which of the above ways of working is likely to suit you and your community best?






5.  Contact details


Please remind us of your contact details.

Name for correspondence: ………………………………………………………………………………………..

Postal address: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Telephone: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Email: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Is this (roughly) the geographical area where your food business might run?  Y/N

If not, where will your food business run (a postcode would help)? ………………………………….


6.  Your questions


Do you have any burning questions that you want answered before deciding whether to get involved?









Any other comments or feedback you’d like to give us?











Thank you so much for your time! We look forward to discussing your plans in more depth!

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