About Us

We strive to source the highest quality, local and ethical produce for Oxford. Sourcing directly from farms, local businesses and producers we are a co-operative that boosts the local economy while maintaining a commitment to be low carbon, low waste and use only biodegradable or compostable packaging.

Our Sourcing Principles


Our main priority is bringing you the best locally grown produce. Local produce has not only travelled fewer miles to get to your plate but is more diverse and seasonal. Buying local helps us re-connect with where our food comes from and makes for a much more exciting diet. We currently work with over 18 local producers, which are based within 25 miles of Oxford and we’re constantly looking to forge more partnerships so this number is growing month on month.


We only stock produce that we are happy has been produced in an ecologically-friendly and sustainable way. This means that most of our local produce is organic or grown on farms working towards organic certification. If we have to look outside the local area for our produce we ensure it’s organic, has little or no packaging, and that it’s transported in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Transparency is key so we work closely with our suppliers to understand where our produce is from and how it’s produced so you can be confident in what you’re buying.


Taste is as important as provenance when it comes to our produce and as we only stock fresh, local or organic produce when it’s in season you can be sure ours is the most delicious you can get. Many of the fruit and vegetable varieties you’ll find in more commercial stores or that come from the other side of the world tend to be chosen for their yield and keeping qualities, not for flavour, diversity or nutritional value. Many are harvested before they are ripe and stored for long periods before distribution losing freshness, flavour and nutritional content. If you come down to one of our stall at Summertown Farmers’ Market, you’ll find we regularly offer tasters to demonstrate how delicious our fruit and veg really is.

We are continually working to improve our sourcing over time and aim to source as much of our range from local organic and ecological farms as possible and to increase this percentage by building capacity in the local food system.


Why buy organic and ecological?

Food you can trust: keeping artificial pesticides and fertilisers out of the food chain
Protects the environment: agrochemicals are not released into surrounding ecosystems
Promotes biodiversity: ecological farming depends on diverse flora and fauna
Reduces greenhouse gas emissions: conventional farming is a major CO2 emitter
Builds soil: crop rotations ensure the long-term health of the soil

Why eat local?

Strengthens the local economy: money spent local stays local
It tastes better: local fruit and veg is fresh and ripe – it can go from the field to your hands in hours
Cuts down food miles: buying food from 20 miles not 2,000 miles emits less CO2 from transport
Builds community: we all get to know each other better
Creates shared culture: we get to know our city and natural environment better


The UK food market is worth £173.6bn a year
Food accounts for 25% of the distance travelled by lorries in the UK, and 12 billion miles driven a year by consumers. The social and environmental costs of food transport – including GHG emissions – are £9 billion a year
Our current food system accounts for around 20% of Oxford’s greenhouse has emissions*
With an ambitious but possible change in demand profile, Oxford could reduce its food footprints significantly – by around 40% in land use, 25% in water use, 30% in energy use and 45% in greenhouse gas emissions*
Oxford could theoretically be self-sufficient in food*

Less than 1% of Oxford’s food currently comes direct from local sources; 51% comes from the UK, 33% from the EU and 15% from further afield*
92% of fruit sold in the UK is imported
If all of Oxford’s allotments and domestic gardens were given over to production, then it could produce half of the city’s fruit and vegetables, which currently produce roughly 3% of Oxford’s fruit and vegetable consumption*
Only 20% of every £1 spent in a supermarket stays in the local economy
The number of greengroceries in the UK declined from 45,000 in the 1950s to around 10,000 in 2000. The cost of groceries declined 8% in real terms between 2000 and 2008. 75% of consumers who buy local do so to support their local community 20% of consumers are willing to pay more for locally sourced food


*This data is taken from Low Carbon Oxford & LandShare’s report ‘FoodPrinting Oxford: How to feed a city’ – well worth a read!


More Info…

Cultivate is a co-op with over 400 members from in and around Oxford (and a few enthusiastic supporters from further afield!). Members support running the co-op with their time and resources and can get stuck into everything Cultivate does by volunteering, coming along to and organising events.

Cultivate is run by a small team of employees. We also have a bank of regular volunteers, some of whom work with Cultivate weekly or several times a week, and help keep the organisation running.

Cultivate’s Board of Directors oversee the direction and progress of the co-op.

1. Make good local food fairly-priced, convenient and accessible for more people

We want to take local food to more people, working with others to increase direct sales of local food from 0.2% to 10% or more. Cultivate will take local food to the community with markets stalls and bike deliveries from online orders.

2. Support the growth of ecologically-friendly and sustainable farming

We need to encourage ecological farming and provide more models of how it can be done. We only stock produce that we are happy has been produced under such conditions and by working with other local organic producers we will strengthen the network for a local agrarian renaissance.

3. Bring people together to push local food forward in practical ways

Moving towards our vision in Oxfordshire depends on a movement of growers, consumers and citizens coming together to support a vibrant local food culture. As a co-operative, Cultivate will act as a bridge between these groups by providing a platform for action, as well as engaging people through retail, outreach, farm visits, volunteering opportunities and an active civil society presence.

4. Create training and education opportunities for a new generation of growers

We need to equip a new generation with the knowledge and skills necessary for a sustainable food system. We are investing in our own education and will pass on our learning through new partnerships with other local growers and organisations. 

5. Do business in new ways that benefit and strengthen our community

We are joining a growing movement of social enterprises embedded in the productive economy but guided by the community and run for the greater good. We aim to be a model of co-operative enterprise, strengthening the local food economy by complementing and collaborating with other local food businesses in order to increase our collective reach and capacity.

Cultivate is a co-operative social enterprise formally registered in England as an Industrial and Provident Society for Community Benefit, number 31487R. Our registered address is Pipers Wait, The Ridings, Stonesfield, Oxon, OX29 8EB.

We are a group of people working together to achieve something in our community by means of creating a functioning business. We encourage anyone with an interest in improving Oxford’s food system to join the co-operative as a member. Members make important decisions about the direction and objectives of the enterprise, and elect a Board of Directors every year to oversee its operations. Some members are shareholders, having invested in a time-bound community share offer that ran from January to April 2012, while others are supporter members paying an annual subscription or workshare members committing to 1/2 day work every month. There is no functional differentiation between membership types.

Cultivate’s governing document or ‘rules’ are the cornerstone of our governance arrangements. The rules set out how Cultivate is owned and managed. You can download them from here: Cultivate Oxfordshire Limited Rules. The rules say that Cultivate operates “for the benefit of the community by empowering members to take joint strategic action in Oxfordshire to work towards a more socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable food system.”

Please get in touch at info@cultivateoxford.org if you have any questions.

Cultivate’s start-up funding came from the local community via a community share offer. The following information is from the Community Shares web site:

There is no legal definition of community shares. The term is used here to refer to a unique form of share capital called ‘withdrawable shares’ which can only be issued by co-operatives or community benefit societies registered with the Financial Services Authority.

Withdrawable shares are very different from ‘transferable shares’, which are the type of shares normally issued by companies. To cash-in transferable shares you must first find a buyer to whom you can ‘transfer’ (i.e. sell) your shares, at an agreed price. Shares in larger companies are bought and sold through stock markets, but these markets do not cater for smaller companies where there are very few buyers or sellers. Finding someone willing to buy shares in a small venture can be very difficult. A withdrawable share can be withdrawn from investment, subject to the terms and conditions of the society concerned. This provides a straightforward way of getting your money back when you want to cash-in your shares.

The main reason for buying community shares is to support the social aims of the venture concerned. Unlike shares in private companies, where personal financial gain is the main motive, community shares are subject to laws that limit financial gain and emphasise social benefit.

Investing money, by purchasing shares, makes you a part-owner in the venture. It entitles you to have a say in how the organisation is run, and you may also be offered interest on your investment and the scope to cash-in your shares and get your money back.

Cultivate believes that diversity is a positive asset and values the contribution made by all members of society. We are committed to principles and practices that support equality of opportunity in all of our activities.

Cultivate strives to ensure that we do not discriminate against any person on the grounds of:

Age Gender Ethnicity, nationality or colour Marital status Disability Sexuality Religion Responsibilities for dependants Unrelated criminal convictions

We strive to tackle discrimination in any form where it arises, in a way that provides a positive example to those with whom we work.

This policy will be expressed in all our activities including:

Project Delivery

We will ensure that our equal opportunities policy is reflected in our approach to project work and we will recognise and respond to issues of equal opportunities as and when they arise.

We will make every effort in our work to involve and engage under-represented groups and to ensure that their needs are taken into account.


No person shall be denied membership of Cultivate on any of the grounds noted above. We will make efforts over time to broaden our membership to include under-represented groups and to ensure that their needs are taken into account.

Employment and volunteering

Cultivate staff and volunteers will be selected against fair and specified criteria and no person will receive less favourable treatment with regards to Recruitment Salary Conditions of service Promotion Training Discipline Dismissal

Cultivate employees will be asked to agree to this Equal Opportunities Policy and its implementation as a condition of their employment and discussion of equal opportunities will form a part of induction training.

Implementation and Monitoring

On receipt of an equal opportunities complaint the Board of Directors will acknowledge the complaint and investigate by collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses. A report on the findings and recommendations will be made available to the complainant and any other person involved. Where a complaint is justified, appropriate action will be taken.

This policy will be reviewed every year.