An innovative scheme that enables small businesses access to rural land has expanded into Scotland for the first time, following its initial successful in Hampshire. Pitch Up! provides opportunities to use land in a way that would not otherwise have been possible without renting or buying land.
The project invites sustainable businesses and start-ups to present their plans on how they’d use the spaces earmarked at Kingsclere Estates in Hampshire and, new for 2023, Balcaskie Estate in Fife. Those that are successful are given access to fertile land, business expertise, retail opportunities and investment. Placing the emphasis on collaboration, Pitch Up! is above all an opportunity to be part of a likeminded community that grows together.
Those successful will join and work with businesses already focusing on a circular economy approach that ‘stacks’ enterprises to make the best and most sustainable use of the land including
- Scotland the Bread, a collaborative farming, milling and bakery project to grow better grain and bake better bread with the common purposes of nourishment, sustainability and food sovereignty…
- The Roaming Dairy, a mobile milking parlour, which works with Rolling Eggs, pasture-fed chickens producing the best organic milk and eggs, highest animal welfare standards, and improving soil fertility and biodiversity in the process…
- The Kinneuchar Inn, a field-to-plate pub and restaurant serving ingredients from the estate and East Neuk Market Garden, agroecological market gardeners...
- Monch, a foraged sustainable pet food brand that encourages growth of the herbal leys and hedgerows supporting organic oat, quinoa and barley production and boosting biodiversity in successive reports…
Pitch Up! is inspired by Kingsclere managing director Tim May’s vision of building a circular community on his family’s 2,500+ acre organic mixed estate. Now in its third year, Tim and the founding Pitch Up! team are excited to welcome Balcaskie onboard as part of a pilot for wider national rollout in 2024.
Tim May, managing director of Kingsclere Estates, who started the Pitch Up! scheme in 2021 said: “Many farmers and estate managers are keen to get more businesses onto their land in a financially and environmentally sustainable way, but don’t always know where to start – or have the time and capacity to do it themselves. If we can all share knowledge, experience and resources instead of duplicating work or making the same mistakes, it’s better for everyone – and we can grow the impact and opportunities much faster. There’s an increasing focus at government level on collaboration between farms – this is a collaboration that can have multiple benefits for both rural economies and the environment they depend on.”
This is the first time Balcaskie Estate has made land available for Pitch Up!. Sam Parsons, estate manager at Balcaskie said:
“We were looking to grow alternatives to the outdated model of landowner–tenant relationships, and were really impressed by what Tim and his team have created with Pitch Up! There’s a general assumption that you have to rent or buy a piece of land to be able to run a land-based business but Pitch Up! shows how this is not true. By collaborating on this year’s Pitch Up! application season this autumn, we’re excited to find and support a new generation of successful, sustainable rural businesses.”
Balcaskie Estate covers 2000 acres in the East Neuk of Fife. With an organic and regenerative focus, farming practices include mob grazing, improving soil health, native wildlife conservation and the reintroduction of heritage breed livestock for a more sustainable future for food production and rural communities. At the heart of the estate is Bowhouse, a growing community of producers, which work to transform local ingredients into artisan food and drink. The Bowhouse Market Weekends have become a well-established fixture, welcoming around 4,200 members of the public every month.
Pitch Up! is open to all businesses and ideas at every stage of development; and the team is happy to work with people at early/ proof-of-concept stage, or those further along their business journey.
- Through Pitch Up!, Kingsclere and Balcaskie both offer:
- Land – from small areas to larger rotational parcels
- Fertility – healthy soils and resilient, rotational pastures
- Production, storage and office space
- Roadside and/ or destination retail opportunities
- Economies of scale and infrastructure, access to machinery
- Business mentoring
- Low overheads, reduced risk and shared running costs
- Help with accounting, administration and marketing
- Access to industry knowledge and contacts from the landowners and the wider circular communities
The application guidance and registration for Pitch Up! 2023 is online now at pitchupandgrow.co.uk with applications open from 1st to 30th November 2023.
The Pitch Up! team is also calling for other farms and estates across the British Isles to get involved in 2024.