In Uncategorized, Grant Funds, The environment & public spaces

This fund is now closed


Heart of Bucks is excited to be working with Co-op Foundation on the third round of the Carbon Innovation Fund.

This fund aims to provide funding a project working to replace or reduce the use of peat or sustainable farming/non-damaging farming methods to protect peatland in food supply chains.

Funding of up to £90,000 is available to one project in Buckinghamshire.

Below is more information about the fund and full guidance can be found in this PDF.

To help answer questions about the fund and application process we held a webinar. You can watch a recording of this webinar here or read responses to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions.


 About the Carbon Innovation Fund

The Co-op Foundation’s three-year, £3.5m Carbon Innovation Fund is a partnership between The Co-op Foundation and the Co-op. It’s funded through Co-op donations raised from the sale of compostable carrier bags in the UK and Co-op Foundation funds. Now it its third year, the Co-op is partnering with us.

For this third round of funding (CIF3), the focus is on sustainable ways to create a thriving food and farming sector, without the need to damage important peat soils across the UK.

Why focus on peat?

Co-op are proud to say that they were the first UK supermarket to ban peat-containing compost from shelves in 2021, focusing on peat-free alternatives only. But they know the work doesn’t stop there. Peat is deeply embedded as a growing medium within food and horticultural systems for many growers and all supermarkets. To protect our environment, we need to find sustainable solutions to make sure that peatlands are no longer damaged for our food and farming system to thrive. We want to do this by funding ideas that help to reduce or remove the need for peat within our food supply chains.

 Fund aims 

The fund will aim to protect peatland by reducing reliance on peat in food supply chains. To achieve this impact the fund will:

  • Invest in testing and scaling up of alternative solutions to peat-free or peat-protecting food growing methods. This can include protecting peatland used for growing crops or for grazing livestock
  • Strengthen existing or create new networks and collaborations between farmers and other stakeholders that bring together solutions to common challenges
  • Increase access to knowledge, techniques and skills for the UK farming community
  • Increase farmers’ confidence, skills and knowledge to transition successfully into a new era of peat-free and/or peat-protecting growing
  • Reduce costs for farmers, consumers and have positive impact on the environment through the adoption of alternative solutions to protect peatland
  • Support work that may feel ‘risky’ for other funders e.g., because of the size of the organisation or because they have only conducted a pilot so far

What types of projects would we support?

We are looking to fund initiatives which can do one or more of the following:

  • Reduce the amount of peat needed to grow crops within food supply chains
  • Remove the amount of peat needed to grow crops within food supply chains
  • Sustainable management / looking after peat soils by using alternative, non-damaging farming methods for crops and/or livestock grazing

 What can’t we fund?

  • Using funding to purchase or use ready-made peat-free compost to use on your crops
  • Projects which do not support food and farming of food (i.e., we cannot support projects focussing on bedding or pot plants)
  • Projects focusing on peatland restoration only (with no element of farming for food involved. We do recognise the importance of this, and Co-op have partnered with RSPB on a large-scale peat restoration project).
  • Policy and lobbying initiatives
  • Brand new ideas, before any initial pilot or proof of concept
  • Projects that cannot commit to open-source sharing. This includes any work on patenting or intellectual property which leads to private gain
  • Retrospective projects and costs
  • Projects taking place outside of Buckinghamshire

What funding is available?

In this partnership with Heart of Bucks Community Foundation, we are hoping to support one project in Buckinghamshire, with funding of up to £90,000 available.

We encourage applications on a ‘full cost recovery’ basis, i.e., including all associated core and overhead costs within the project budget. Projects must start within six months of the grant being awarded, but thereafter can be spent over any time period.

Who can apply?

Any not-for-profit type of organisation, of any size based is welcome to apply for the Carbon Innovation Fund. To be funded, your organisation must:

  • Commit to open source sharing of information, processes and learnings (i.e. work is not protected by intellectual property rights)
  • Be legally constituted and have a bank account in the organisation’s legal name
  • Be able to evidence a pilot of the work planed for their funded project. The funded organisation does not need to have carried out this pilot themselves.
  • Carry out the proposed project in the Buckinghamshire

For-profit or statutory organisations are welcome to apply as part of a partnership, but a non-profit organisation must be the lead applicant and legal recipient of the grant.

We prefer that the funded organisation has at least two unconnected people on the board or management committee.

  • By ‘unconnected’, we mean people who are not related or married.
  • By ‘board or management committee’, we mean your directors or trustees as listed with your organisation’s governing body, e.g. Companies House, the Charity Commission, FCA etc.

We would recommend getting in touch with the Co-op CIF team prior to applying if your organisation does not meet these criteria.

If any Co-op suppliers or producers are doing eligible work according to our criteria, they are welcome to apply for funding. However, Co-op suppliers will not automatically be prioritised over any other application.


Download guidance notes

Download and review application questions


Launch webinar recording


Applications are now closed.