Since our work began well over a decade ago we have been asked lots of questions and had interesting conversations with community members, people from the voluntary and statutory sectors, friends, family, refugees, permaculture practitioners, gardeners, rehab workers, and people on social media.
Over the years we have jotted down some of the questions with a view to explaining and discussing some of them at some point, but no sooner does the spring show signs of springing and we are busy again.
So while Ive got a spare few hours it seemed the right time to provide answers to questions and conversations we’ve had in relation to our work and community food growing. There is no particular order and theme to the questions, some are quite random, some amusing and some thought provoking and I have tried to include all that we have been asked.
How Many members are there in Bolton Urban Growers and who does what?
There are three core members, myself, Jean and Jeannette, I work on community food growing projects and write blogs about our work, Jean is a brain injury recovery specialist as her job and has held workshop sessions in one pot cooking, seed sowing, and basic gardening in primary schools for Bolton Urban Growers. Jeannette grows some food at home and promotes our project via the community grapevine, she is also a signatory on our community bank account. We also have a number of friends and supporters from diverse work backgrounds including education, biology, permaculture, and community work, who’s skills we are able to call on if our workload increases or diversifies.
Are you open to new members in Bolton Urban Growers?
A big yes, we would like to see a loose network of people across Bolton sharing skills and resources under the Urban Growers banner. Our structure is none hierarchical and none bureaucratic and is open to anyone who has an interest in our core interests of community food growing, permaculture and community development.
What would happen if everyone in Bolton grew fruit and veg in their gardens?
The health of people living in the town would improve, people would have more money in their pockets, people would learn valuable traditional and useful skills, it would generate micro incomes, and would address food poverty in the most direct and practical way possible. There would also be some improvment to localised eco systems If ecological methods and strategies are employed.
Are you part of Bolton Council or do you work with them?
No we have no links with the council as such, we are a constituted community group, our connection with organizations in Bolton over the years has been with mental health charity Bolton Steps, formally based at Victoria Hall until their recent closure, and in recent times with local housing charity Bolton at Home with whom we work fighting food poverty via urban horticulture.
Will Jamaican Marijuana grow in our climate?
We laughed when we were asked this question by an elderly chap some years ago, and our answer was that we wouldn’t recommend it due to its legal status.
Why does Politics have to do with communities growing food?
Food poverty exists because of our failed and inhuman economic model, the way food is produced in most cases is detrimental to healthy functioning eco systems, and our food supply is not local, we have control over it, as it is owned by corporations, banks and hedge fund managers. I would love it if our work wasn’t Political, but alas it is a very Political space to work in, but thankfully one where we can bring about change without the nagging and glacial tedium of electoral processes.
Why do you do the work that you do?
Because many people in the country do not have regular access to fresh cleanly grown fruit and vegetables, we see such access as a base line human right, and believe that community based urban horticulture is the way to achieve this.. We also know that By implementing permaculture into our work we are able to address some ecological issues whilst feeding people at the same time and introduce growers to life changing methods and ways of thinking if they are interested in taking it to the next level.
How come you are into community food growing and work with a housing charity?
There are a number of reasons here, firstly Bolton at Home are working actively to address food poverty in the borough via their storehouse pantry projects, support for food banks, and community food growing. They also have direct access to thousands of tenants in terms of people who likely to go without food, being the biggest provider of social housing in the borough, and last but not least they are a great organization to work with, forward thinking and prepared to try new ideas, and are at the forefront of the evolution of social housing.
Do you watch gardeners world?
Yes we all watch it, though I dont watch much TV and usually end up missing a few episodes during the growing season.