Food for thought, as Bucks allotment holders urged to join food bank scheme
Grow to Give scheme donates surplus fresh produce from allotments and gardens to local food banks
Buckinghamshire Council is looking for gardeners with an excess of home-grown produce, to join a community food initiative providing fresh, locally grown food to food banks and community fridges across Bucks.
The Grow to Give scheme was set up by two Buckinghamshire growers, Justine Hamer and Sheila Bees, to help people in the local community, by raising awareness of allotments and using the surplus from these allotments to donate to their local food banks, One Can Trust and the Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse.
Last year, with the help of over 100 growers from seven Buckinghamshire allotments, Grow to Give donated over 1,600kg of food, giving support to many local families and individuals struggling to put food on the table.
With support and funding from Buckinghamshire Council and Feedback Global, this year the aim is to collect at least 2,500kg of locally grown fruit and veg.
Food charities have seen a huge increase in demand for food parcels, with new people and families continuing to come for help.
During the coronavirus crisis, food banks in Buckinghamshire reported a threefold increase in need from that in 2019.
With demand remaining high, Grow to Give and Buckinghamshire Council are looking for more local growers and allotments to help ‘grow’ the scheme so they can continue to supply nutritious food to those who have fallen on hard times.
Justine and Sheila said: “We just can’t believe people have taken Grow to Give into their hearts so quickly, and it’s all down to our local allotment champions and fabulous growers.
“Each week it’s so uplifting seeing the fabulous produce they donate. It’s a great example of community spirit and what can be achieved working together.”
Adam Townsend, food bank manager at the Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse, said: “Having fresh, seasonal, locally grown food to give our food bank clients is just fantastic. It’s even encouraged some of our customers to start growing themselves.
"It’s been a really tough year and the Grow to Give donations just show how much people care.”
Councillor Angela Macpherson deputy leader of Bucks Council and cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "The community response to this pandemic has been nothing but remarkable.
"As soon as lockdown began, residents have rallied together to make sure those who were struggling could get the help, support and food they needed.
"I’m really proud of our community and would like to thank everyone that is continuing to help where it's needed.
“We really want to support local initiatives that are delivering real benefits to our communities and Grow to Give is just that, simple and effective.
"We’ve never seen such demand on food banks. Our job was to help Grow to Give to scale this up so that as many local people as possible across Buckinghamshire could benefit from fresh, nutritious food.
“I would like to encourage even more green-fingered residents to take part.
"Any contribution is welcome no matter how big or small, so if you have space for a row of vegetables in your garden or a herb garden on your balcony - or even kitchen windowsill - please do join the scheme and turn your food excess into a community benefit.”
There’s a ‘How To Start a Scheme’ toolkit on the Grow to Give website, where you’ll also find free downloadable resources including posters to advertise the scheme at your allotment or in your local community.
In addition to this there are free online eco-friendly growing masterclasses, recipe cards and videos showing food bank users how to make the most of the fresh food donations.
To get involved, email Justine Hamer at [email protected]
For further information, visit www.growtogive.co.uk or watch the Grow to Give video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8aZILzt8mc&t=64s