Do you want to bring more locally and sustainably produced food to your area?
By Ed Mitchell 2nd June 2010
Growing Communities – a social enterprise based in Hackney, North London, is calling for groups and individuals to join their Start-Up Programme to set up new community-led organic box schemes across the UK.
If you are in a Transition Initiative/food group and are keen to get involved in trading and social enterprise, then this might be just the thing for you.
They are looking for up to five groups who want to use the Growing Communities’ model in their own areas to help create a more sustainable and resilient food system. The deadline: June 18. For expressions of interest have a look on their site
The support programme will start in autumn 2010, and there will be an introductory workshop in July. We hope to help these five communities launch successful community-led box schemes from June 2011 onwards.
Growing Communities has run a community-led box scheme since 1993 – three friends, with no money but lots of enthusiasm, each recruited 10 of people and started working with one farm in Oxfordshire. The scheme now packs almost 1,000 bags of fruit and vegetables a week, most of which comes direct from local, sustainable farms. They also run the UK’s only all-organic weekly farmers’ market, the Stoke Newington Farmers’ market, and have pioneered urban food growing – producing salad leaves for the box scheme on small market gardens in Hackney.
Growing Communities estimates that the box scheme and market combined now provide sustainably produced food to over 3,000 people in Hackney every week. At the same time Growing Communities’ community-led trading outlets are a key outlet for 30 small-scale, local organic producers and processers. The organisation employs 24 people part-time and has a turnover of around £400,000. All of that income is self-generated.
“We know there are lots of communities and individuals all over the UK who understand that we need to act now to create the local food initiatives that are going make our food system more sustainable and resilient in the face of the challenges of climate change and resource depletion, ”said Julie Brown, Growing Communities’ director, “We know that our community-led box scheme works and provides sustainably produced food, support for local farmers and jobs in our community – we now want to see how It can work for other communities.”
Growing Communities is developing the materials, training and web-tools with which to help other groups set up community-led box schemes over the last year. There is now a dedicated Start- Up website to show groups who are interested in joining the programme what is involved and how they can get started.
There will be a workshop on July 21st to start the process off and you need to get back to Growing Communities by June 18th if you are interested in joining them there.
Growing Communities has funded the programme through its own reserves and some additional financial support from UnLtd. For more information about the Start-Up Programme and to download and Expression of Interest form visit their website.