As many of you know i applied for a farm start-up grant back in October. Well it took a while but we have now been awarded the grant which in a round-about way is also great news for Community Owned Moorings (COMs).
Why? Well as Narrowboat Farm (NBF) is the pilot site for COMs, it is down to NBF to put in place an infrastructure to host the first COMs site. Apart from all the glorious (or long-winded, beurocratic, boring paperworky) permissions required, the biggest barrier to COM sites is set-up costs. Once a site is set up and boaters are paying fees, then all should be hunky-dory but access to land and putting in services is an expensive business. Plus, once the pilot site has proven it’s worth, it will be easier to attract investment in further sites.
We’ve managed to get a bare minimum infrastructure in place at NBF but now the grant will help expand this so there is sufficient water, electric, parking, storage, paths etc to service a number of boats. It’s still not going to be like turning up to one of SC’S shiny flagship sites, but then that’s partly the point of this project…
The other side to this is that the farm grant will give the required boost to get the land-based market garden enterprise up and running. What has this got to do with COMs? Well, a lot. The land-based enterprise is intended to link with the moorings and bring freight (on a very small scale) back to the canals for the first time in many years. 200 years ago farms built jetties and loaded their produce on to boats to go to local markets. Well we want to bring this back.
Linking the land project with the COM project widens the benefits of COMs vastly and brings wider community benefits. Think heritage, think tourism, think local food, think eco-friendly social enterprise… Without this it is harder to justify the project to supporters, there simply aren’t enough of us boaters to justify the investment (yet, that is!!!! COMs will hopefully increase the numbers of boaters and boat movements).
So great news and another step towards making the vision a reality 🙂