Food writer sets £30,000 fundraising goal

Otter Farm is based in Weston.

Otter Farm is based in Weston. - Credit: Archant

Mark Diacono is crowdfunding as he looks to complete the build of a kitchen garden school at his smallholding in Weston, near Honiton.

An award-winning food writer has just a week to generate around £30,000 to transform his ambitious vision of a kitchen garden school into a reality.

Mark Diacono is currently in the process of constructing the innovative building at his smallholding, Otter Farm, which is situated near Honiton.

He is currently raising money through online crowd-funding - where contributors are rewarded for their donations.

Mr Diacono is hoping to reach his final fundraising goal of £60,000 by next Wednesday (March 16) to finish the development and open the school by the summer.

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“We have had this piece of land for ten years and I have been planting all sorts of unusual things there,” he said.

“It is a unique place and I have spent a lot of my time writing about it. I wanted to open it up and make it a place which is shared, and is an inspiration. I also want to try and use the whole thing as a way of putting opportunity in the way of those not normally exposed to it.”

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The farm grows the best of the UK’s familiar fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts and more exotic plants - including pecans and Carolina allspice.

It also boasts a forest garden, linear orchards that grow their own nutrients, a vineyard, container and perennial gardens and orchards of everything from rare local apples to almonds and quince.

The kitchen school will mirror Otter Farm’s green ethos as its roof will be transformed into a living edible garden.

A variety of courses will also be on offer when the school opens, teaching people about everything from distilling and preserving to beekeeping and sustainable building.

Mr Diacono added: “This is something unique that will be in our community, which I want to make work for everybody. It will also be great for local accommodation and food providers, and open for community events.”

Mr Diacono is accepting donations through his crowd-funding page, and a variety of rewards are applicable to the amount given towards the appeal.

For more information, and to see how you can help, visit

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