Woodside Arran

Jennifer, director of community supported organic farm and delivery business Woodside Arran, was voted Firstport’s Young Social Innovator 2017, winning a £5000 prize and business support.

Jennifer runs an organic market garden and mobile shop serving the rural communities of Arran, addressing the lack of access to affordable, good quality, fresh vegetables on the island. Customers can subscribe for weekly vegetable boxes or buy direct and low income residents can exchange hours of work for free food through a work share scheme. The Veggie Van will also provide a route to market for other local food producers, supporting the local economy.

She said: "Woodside Arran's aims are simple - we would like to establish a diverse local food network for the Island of Arran that encompasses organic growing techniques, permaculture design principles and regenerative agricultural practises. We would like to provide as many residents, tourists and local business the opportunity to buy healthy, high quality food whilst educating and supporting as many people as possible to become connected to the food they eat."

Jennifer also received a £2,325 Start It award from the Social Entrepeneurs Fund, delivered by Firstport, last year and was recently awarded a further £25,000 from Firstport’s Build It programme to take the business to the next level.

She said: "Winning the Social Innovation Competition gave us a huge boost of confidence, but also allowed us to support more people to access our services a lot quicker than we would have been able to on our own.

“It has fast tracked our business by about six months and allowed us to carry out a lot of the activities we didn't think we would be able to do, at a very challenging time for farming. Winning allowed us to look ahead to the 2018 season and prepare for where we want to be by the end of the year, rather than having to make do with where we are now.

“Being awarded the Build It grant is incredible news - not only does it guarantee that we will be self-sufficient within one year, but it means we can take on a member of staff straight away to help us with both the busy growing season and getting more people involved with our local food network. This will allow us to build on the momentum we have created so far and reach the many people who live on Arran and who will visit this year”.