How do we feed urban communities in a sustainable way in the face of climate change, ecological crises and fossil fuel depletion?
Growing Communities is a community-led organisation based in Hackney, North London, which is providing a real alternative to the current damaging food system.
Over the past 18 years or so, we have created two main community-led trading outlets - an organic fruit and vegetable box scheme and the Stoke Newington Farmers' Market. These harness the collective buying power of our community and direct it towards those farmers who are producing food in a sustainable way - allowing those small-scale farmers and producers whom we believe are the basis of a sustainable agriculture system to thrive. Growing Communities believes that if we are to create the sustainable re-localised food systems that will see us through the challenges ahead, we need to work together with communities and farmers to take our food system back from the supermarkets and agribusiness.
We also run organically certified urban market gardens, where we grow produce for sale through the box scheme. We specialise in salads and leafy greens - and are very proud of our virtually zero-carbon salad bags. Our urban growing sites also provide training for our apprentice growers and volunteers, some of whom are now helping us to create a Patchwork Farm in Hackney, where we grow food for the box scheme in back gardens, on church land and on estates. In 2012, we opened our 4-acre Starter Farm in Dagenham, to grow a wider variety of vegetables on a larger scale.
All our projects are steps towards Growing Communities' aim of creating a more sustainable, re-localised food system - changing what we eat, how we eat and how it's farmed. To find out more about what we did last year download our Annual Report. For more information on what we think needs to be done to make our food system more resilient and more sustainable look at our Manifesto and our Food Zones diagram.
Our experience has shown that urban communities are well placed to work together with farmers and growers to create practical alternatives to the current way our food is produced and distributed. We recently launched our Start-Up Programme to help other communities around the UK set up their own community-led box schemes based on the Growing Communities' model. Go to the Growing Communities' Start-Up website for more information on how you can get involved.
Growing Communities is a not-for-profit company with a constitution and a voluntary board. Box scheme members can stand for and elect the board at our Annual General Meeting. Current board members are:
- Sarah Havard (Chair)
- Richard Dana (Treasurer)
- Geraldine Gilbert
- Fiona Giles
- Victoria Harud
- Nick Perry
- Guy Rickard
- Nick Saltmarsh