For food growers, September is a month to harvest, share and enjoy what has been grown through the year and each September the Soil Association use their ‘Organic September’ campaign to raise awareness of the many benefits of organic food and farming. So this month feels like a good time to champion some of the community-based food action we see in the Semble network. Here we celebrate three projects that are using the power of organic food to nourish their communities and bring them together.
Common Ground was set up to enable the local community to reconnect to the earth, each other and the food we grow. Following the principles of permaculture, it hopes to empower people to sustainably and responsibly cultivate organic food.
As well as championing the power of food growing, it offers a welcoming space for migrants and refugees where they can feel safe and feel a part of a local community. It is a space to share stories and skills as well as edible delights, a space to learn and share knowledge of growing and cooking.
Throughout the year sessions include sowing seeds, propagating plants, saving seeds, selling crops to market to raise funds for the project, and of course many chances to cook and eat together. Other activities include foraging to bushcraft, and are guided by the needs and desires of participants, encouraging space for creativity.
Whitley Bay Community Allotment is a community garden, run by volunteers, that supports and encourages local residents to grow organic fruit and vegetables on small plots.
Having small plots allows people to try growing food without the commitment of having to maintain a large plot on their own. The project provides tools and support, breaking down the barriers to community growing. All people need is the desire to develop some green fingers and a passion to nurture nature.
In 2019 the project received funding through Semble as part of Carling Made Local Fund. With the funds, they purchased several different types of heritage fruit tree, which formed the basis of their new community orchard site. The orchard provides access to locally grown fruit as well as hosting various community events throughout the year.
Organic Arts is an arts and education centre on a working organic farm. The organisation describes itself as ‘the educational charity involving you in creative farm-based learning for a healthy future’.
It promotes the arts and rural issues through educational visits and walks, volunteering opportunities, creative classes, practical workshops, community projects, exhibitions and performances.
The Community Garden is used for educational visits from schools and community groups, designed to educate the community about where their food comes from. It also provides inclusive volunteering opportunities, designed to empower people with mental health issues, learning disabilities and those suffering from social isolation.
Do you run a project that supports your local community? Sign up to the Semble network here.
Do you want to get stuck into a community project near you? Search our directory here.
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