Julian Cottee, Cultivate Oxford, 27th March 2012

Julian Cottee was an Ambassadorial Scholar in 2009, sponsored by District 1090 to go to Costa Rica for 6 months to study Spanish. This was his third visit to an Oxford Spires meeting, and this time he came to tell us about his new venture Cultivate Oxford, a social enterprise set up in May 2011 based in south Oxfordshire and partnered with Earth Trust.

See the Cultivate Oxford website.

Julian was an undergraduate studying Human Sciences when he applied for the Ambassadorial Scholarship. While in Costa Rica he learnt about their environmental policy – where over 25% of land is protected and over 90% of energy is from renewable sources. Julian then worked with an environmental campaigning NGO is London before going back to Costa Rica, followed by studying for an MSc in Environmental Policy at Oxford University.

Julian started a community food growing project on the Abingdon Road in Oxford, then Cultivate Oxford was set up in 2011 as a Social Enterprise. The organisation has a 5 acre field and as well as growing food to sell they also buy from other small organic producers. The long term aim is to be a central point for producers so that together they can provide the quantity and reliability that restaurants and other customers need. The start up funding has been provided by local investors: a share offer has raised approx £80,000 and resulted in approx 200 members. There are five co-funders plus some older (more experienced) non-executives plus lots of volunteers.

Cultivate Oxford plans to start retailing in June 2012.