19 May 2010
A Chance to Learn How to Replicate Growing Communities in your Community
For Transition groups looking to set up viable local food systems, there is a range of models to choose from. There are the better known ones such as CSAs and box schemes, and the more innovative ones, such as Food Hubs. One less well known, but equally exciting model is that being developed at Growing Communities in Hackney, who I have often written about glowingly here. For the uninitiated, here is a short film about their work:
Growing Communities have now developed a training programme for community groups who want to replicate their work. For Transition groups looking practically at tools and mechanisms for rebuilding a local food infrastructure, this could prove to be an invaluable opportunity. When I visited their set-up last year, I found it hugely impressive, and what they have created is remarkable. Here is the information they sent me about the training….
Do you want to bring more locally and sustainably produced food to your area?
Pioneering social enterprise Growing Communities from Hackney, North London, is calling for groups and individuals to join their Start-Up Programme this May to set up new community-led organic box schemes across the UK. They are looking for up to five groups wanting to use the Growing Communities’ model in their own areas to help create a more sustainable and resilient food system.
Growing Communities’ has run a community-led box scheme since 1993 and now packs over 920 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 £348,000. All of that income was 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 has been 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. Groups who want to join the Start-Up programme will be required to submit an Expression of Interest form. Growing Communities is looking to work with up to five groups and those groups who are selected will receive detailed training and mentoring – advice on identifying how much Start-Up funding they will need and where this might be sourced will be provided.
Growing Communities has funded the programme through its own reserves and some additional financial support from UnLtd. For more information about how to join the Start-Up Programme click here.