From November 27th Cultivate will only be trading from our market stall at the Sunday market in Summertown. We will be pausing trade at all other stops and online until further notice.
Please see below for more information.
For many of us, Autumn is a time for taking stock. At Cultivate, we’ve also been spending the past couple of months reflecting on our activities, and we wanted to share our current state of play with you.
As those of you who attended our AGM in the summer (and those of you who shop with us regularly at our stops) will know, we have been close to breaking even in the these last 20 months on trading alone but unfortunately we are just not quite there yet. This means that it’s time for a rethink and there is a lot to think about:
• Over the five years since we launched with the aim of creating a more socially-beneficial and environmentally sustainable food system for Oxford, there have been some significant developments in the local food scene, many of them directly influenced by our work. New outlets providing local and organic produce have opened in the city such as Talking Shop in Sandford, 2 North Parade, Wild Honey and the Organic Deli.
• New organisations like Good Food Oxford, set up with the help of Cultivate founder Julian, have helped catalyse new initiatives and collaborations with local businesses like the Oxford Pumpkin Festival and their work in Barton as part of the Barton Healthy New Town initiative.
• With the growing number of people interested in local food, thought also needs to be given to supporting supply and discussions have been taking place with a number of people in the local food scene around a potential local food production, processing and distribution hub.
• In September we had to say goodbye to our VegVan after a major gearbox malfunction. Since then we have been using a temporary replacement, and we are currently looking at options for a permanent replacement.
So all of this means that we need to give some thought to what is needed to support the scale-up of local food in Oxford and in turn provide a strong route to market for local producers. In order to do this properly, we’ve decided that we need to give ourselves a bit of time, and we’re delighted to say that we also have some funding in place to help support this.
What this means in practice is that we’ll be scaling back our outward-facing activity to focus on our strategic planning for the future. So, from November 27th, we’ll solely be trading from our market stall at the Sunday market in Summertown. We’ll be stopping all other weekly stops, our wholesale business and our click and collect service for the time being.
In the new year we look forward to coming out to the membership to discuss our proposals for a new direction for the whole business, which we hope will not only help us create a more socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable food system for Oxford, but help us to continue as a successful, self-sufficient organisation.
Cultivate’s strengths are in its people – our staff team, our grocers, volunteers, producers, customers and, of course, our members. This time for taking stock will make sure we continue to do what’s best for the people who make up Oxford’s incredible local food system, and to be able to do so for hopefully a long time to come.