Bolton Urban Growers: A year fighting food poverty

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money” 

                                                                 Ron Finley

This year has been great for us, as a result of all of the ongoing support from local housing charity Bolton at Home we have been able to roll out our work into different areas of Bolton delivering food growing projects to some of the most deprived areas in the borough. Bolton at Home Neighbourhood managers, community development workers and projects workers have been so supportive of our work, I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for continual unwavering support. So without further a do let me take you on a journey through our work in 2015.

Get Growing Breightmet

The get growing Breightmet project provided resources and ongoing support to twenty three families in Breightmet, an area officially recognised as a food desert by the United Nations, on account of the fact that the nearest place that residents can buy fresh fruit and vegetables is a mile away. Throughout the course of the project residents grew potatoes, strawberries, courgettes and soft fruits, we also provided a fruit tree for each household, which will provide fresh fruit for decades into the future.

Breightmet Community Food Growing Hub

Neighbourhood Manager Tony Cottam came across a piece of fenced off land in Breightmet that was being used to store three shipping containers, he made a few inquires and phone calls with a view to setting the site up as a community food growing Hub. In may of this year we be began work on site by filling it with raised beds made from recylced fencing from the Cawder Estate in Farnworth. despite our late start the site provided fresh produce on a weekly basis from July until the middle of October, the produce was given away to residents struggling with deep cuts to welfare and social provision.

Beechcroft and Red Lane community allotments

A quieter year this year at both sites, but will still managed to deliver a fruit and mushroom foraging sessions, and planted on loads of overwinter crops on vacent beds at the beechcroft site, and added more large raised beds to the Red Lane site in anticipation of further levels of food poverty in 2016.

Willow Hey Project  

Forward thinking Neighbourhood Manager Shauna Morton negocaited a long term tenancy on what can only be described as a hidden wild allotment site situated close to the flower estate in Farnworth, when we moved onto the site it was completely overgrown and in much need of rejuvenating. During the last twelve month period the site has been accessed by around sixty local residents including refugees and asylum seekers, Princes Trust, and the Local Cawder estate residents group. All produce grown on the site was given away free of charge to anyone who accessed the site.

The women of Cawder estate

As part of the Willow Hey project we outreached into the community and helped women on the local Cawder estate to grow some of their own food, the estate was previously blighted by anti-social behavour and class A drug dealing, the food growing project that women on the estate participated is part of the ongoing optimism on the estate that has seen it go from a virtual no go area for families and children into one where residents take pride in their area and pride in their food growing achievements.

Bankfield Community food growing project

The Bankfield site is sandwiched between social Housing in the Deane area of Bolton. We were invited over to the site in Mid November to help prepare six large raised beds and get them ready for growing, such was the enthusiams and level of involvement from both our team and other groups in the area that we managed to plant dozens of overwintering garlic cloves, japanese onions, broad beans and some blackcurrent cuttings from our Willow Hey site. This project looks set to flourish in 2016 and continue with the same momentum that it started with.

Longsight House

We started working with the elderley residents of Longsight House in early November, our first session working with residents saw the planting of dozens of overwinter garlic cloves,broad beans and overwintering onions, despite the cold weather it was a great turn from enthusiastic residents. Our next session on the site will entail the planting of native woodland trees in the grounds of house, and I have no doubt that keen residents will once again be out in force.






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