The get growing Breightmet project begin in February of this year, the aim of the project was to provide resources and support to residents living on the Breightmet estate. From both the perspective of ourselves and Bolton and Home who funded this project, the benefits of such a project are diverse in terms of some of the issues that it addressed.
Addressing multiple issues through food growing
In a neighbourhood that is classified as a food desert where access to fresh fruit and vegetables is a considerable distance away from the families who need to access it. Then there is the equally important issue of healthy eating, our approach to this is simple and direct, instead of the cumbersome, fiddly and sometimes patronising approach of teaching people about additives, vitamins and nutrients the fact that people are growing and eating produce from their garden ensures that they are getting everything that their body needs to function. Another issue the project addressed is the fact that many people on estate simply cant afford to buy cleanly grown fresh fruit and vegetables.
The project itself
This year we worked with twenty three families by supplying them with a raised bed, fruit trees and bushes, a small portable poly-tunnel and everything else they needed to grow food in their gardens. Aside from the twenty three families who we worked closely with on a weekly basis we also provided potted vegetable plants to around thirty residents at a a small environmental event that we held at the New Lane UCAN centre.
What did the project achieve?
The get growing project achieved a number of things, firstly it bought fresh cleanly grown produce onto the estate that families would have otherwise struggled to buy because of their economic circumstances. Secondly for a few of our growers who were suffering with long term medical conditions it provided gentle exercise and nutrient dense food to aid their path to recovery and well being. The project also generated a real buzz with this close knit community, this resulted in me working in some capacity with five extra families who joined the project in mid-late spring. In terms of the long term ecological impact of the project we added over twenty fruit trees, and around fifty fruit bushes into the neighbourhood, that will continue to provide fresh fruit for decades to come and forage for pollinating insects.
Taking it to the next level
Building on work that we have been carrying out in Breightmet over the last two years, a new Get growing project will begin in the early spring of 2016, this new project will also include where ever possible the introduction of micro income generation through food growing as a further measure to combat the ongoing cuts being made to a social and general welfare provision. We are also in receipt of large donation of compost from the Viridor revive scheme which will enable us provide resources to some of the growers from the 2015 Get Growing project, whilst at the same time working with a completely new set of growers.
We learned a few things this year as always and gained some insight into the connection that people have with food. based on our findings will connect next years growers to local cooking projects who will provide recipes and guidance on how to prepare and cook the vegetables they have grown, we will also provide a small simple booklet providing direct help and guidance with the basic tasks of home food growing. We also noticed how popular fruit and staple vegetables such as spuds carrots and onions were, so will concentrate greater on ramping up production of this produce.
Until the next time
I would like to say a big thank you to Neighbourhood Manager Tony Cottam for his funding support and ongoing conviction, and all of the team at the New Lane UCAN centre for their support, including, Vanessa, Carl, Charlotte and Roseanne. And it goes without Saying a huge thank you to all of the growers who got involved in this years project. Let us make next years project a thing with self momentum and a resource to liberate local residents from the locked in effect of poverty and low income. Resistance is Fertile!