Its that time of the year again when the season is quickly moving into autumn, and with this comes the end of this years Sown in Bolton project. So here is a little in the way of a story about how this years project unfolded this year.
In early 2017 fearful that years project wasn’t going to happen we began an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to work with a hundred cash strapped families helping them to grow their own food. Despite a lot of interest being shown in the campaign we were unable to meet the required amount of pledges, but since this was our first time ever of using this method of fundraising we have learned exactly where we went wrong and will run a new campaign to help fund our work in 2018.
So despite the crowdfunder not being successful we were still able to deliver Sown in Bolton food growing project to thirty two families across the borough due to smaller donations that were made independently of the crowdfunder from organizations and individuals.
This year as with previous years delivering this project we worked with some non Bolton at Home tenants by delivering food growing resources and advise to two families living in Irwell Valley Housing Association properties in Breightmet, with a further three families from the same association who have shown an interest in wanting to grow their own food in 2018.
so we would like to say a big thank you to Natalie and Amanda and Paul the Irwell Valley tenants we worked with on Monks Lane for participating in this years project.
Social Background of growers
All of our thirty two families that took part in this years project live in social housing, all families involved fall into low income categories, including some working families who at some point during the last 12 months have needed to access foodbanks for daily sustenance. Around a quarter of growers have some long term ongoing health issues.
Lessons learned for adaptation and future delivery
As is the case with every project there are things that work and things that don’t, and things that need a little adaptation. Without rambling on for pages and pages about this here is a simple and short list of adaptations which we will be implementing into next years project.
- Offer growers the opportunity to undertake accredited Horticultural training based on a rolling course for families with children and people with disabilities who would find it difficult attending a venue.
- To expand the workdays of the project to two days a week to enable us to develop a closer working relationship with our prospective growers and to ramp up the amount of food in each garden.
- To have regular weekly onsite help from a volunteer who is interested in horticulture and community growing helping to deliver the project with us.
This is the part where I say all thoughts and opinions are all my own, but seriously. I,m sure that I don’t need to go into the finer details about the current state of affairs that finds well over million families having to access food Banks out of absolute necessity, many of whom are in work who simply don’t earn enough because of low pay, Similarly the harsh effects of benefits legislation and cuts only fans the flames of greater food insecurity and perpetuate the manufactured hunger that is being imposed on people on benefits and the low paid.
So for ourselves rooted in social justice and the ethics and principles of permaculture it makes perfect sense to provide people with the skills and resources needed to grow as much of their own food as they are able to.
The more people grow their own the less dependence they have on cash money and the current Ponzi scheme economic model, and of course less carbon generated by transportation and a woefully outdated agriculture method. The more people take up home growing the greater the chance of a local food economy coming to life, but most importantly people get to eat healthy cleanly grown food that is usually out of their price range whether they have money or not.