With 380 workable plots Uplands produces a range of ‘surplus’ vegetables and fruits. The project will provide added value which can be shared between Association and individual entrepreneurs. Once established, other allotment sites can enter the supply chain.
Buildings on site managed by the Association can accommodate the kitchen and processing equipment required. We have identified five plot holders with expertise in honey, jam, chutney and juice production. They will be offered business, finance and organisational training through the co-operative movement of which we are members.
We are discussing with one plot holder, who has good business experience, an oversight role to help ensure the micro-businesses develop good business practices and run on co-operative principles. The existing store will be expanded to handle storage and sale of Uplands produce. Other potential outlets identified include two city restaurants committed to local produce, plus another social enterprise running event catering.
We have tested the market with ‘own brand’ honey from 3 hives purchased by the Association. Some 20 kilo has been bottled and sold at prices providing an excellent return. The above mentioned “Urban Earth” readily marketed their fruit juices; and artisan entrepreneurs in general profit from the growing demand for local traceable products.
We intend working with The Co-operative Hub to obtain support in the development of a sustainable business model based on co-operative principles.
With 7,500 council plus private allotment plots in Birmingham, the Uplands model can be promoted through existing networks. Nationally allotment associations are looking for new business models to provide sustainability against the volatility of local government.