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The Grown in Dagenham project on the Dagenham Farm started in January 2016. It builds on the community outreach work we’ve done since the farm opened in 2012 – doing more to involve local people in the farm and get more people benefiting from learning how to grow food – and what to do with the veg when they’ve got it! A £255,000 grant over three years from the Big Lottery is helping us to do this.
There are several key project areas:
We run weekly school food-growing and cooking sessions for 60 William Bellamy students plus weekly sessions for Assisted Learning students from Barking and Dagenham College. Click on this link to see photos of our work with local schools.
An after-school food-growing club for parents and children at William Bellamy school and a holiday food-growing club, Growing on Holiday. The club is for young people aged 9-15 and includes lunch made from fresh farm produce. Activities include planting out, harvesting soft fruit, learning to cook farm produce - and eating! Click on this link to see photos of previous holiday clubs.
We are training four local unemployed lone parents in food growing and food production every year, teaching them how to use farm produce to make Grown in Dagenham products – including Grown in Dagenham Tommy K Ketchup. Our trainees are learning the basics of food growing, harvesting and food preparation as well as marketing and retailing. Click here to see our 2016 and 2017 trainees in action. We are currently recruiting for our 2018 trainees - to find out more click here.
Every Wednesday we prepare a communal lunch for staff and volunteers cooked from farm produce - which we sit and eat together.
We run weekly food growing sessions for people in recovery from alcohol abuse.
The farm is open every Sunday during the growing season (Open Farm Sundays 2018 from Sunday March 11 to Sunday 28 October,11am to 3pm) and Wednesday (February to mid- December) for local residents to learn more about food growing and get fresh air and exercise through volunteering on the farm. For more about our volunteering opportunities - go to our Volunteering page. On Open Farm Sundays you can just drop in to buy fresh produce from the farm. As well as our regular Open Farm Sundays we host special events such as our DagenJAM event - click here to see photos.
As well as the traineeships, the Big Lottery Grant is funding new jobs at the farm: Hannah is our Food Activities worker and Michèle is our Education and Volunteer Co-ordinator. Our growers Alice and Shelagh work with both of them on designing food-growing sessions for trainees, young people and volunteers.
The grant has also enabled us to for create a food prep kitchen for the Grown in Dagenham products from a disused garage and revamp an old potting area into a volunteer area and teaching kitchen.