Based in Hackney, North London, ‘Growing Communities’ aims to transform food and farming through community-led trade. Growing Communities is a social enterprise an organisation that works to bring about the environmental, social and economic change it desires directly through its trading activity; surplus made is invested back into the organisation.
The aim is to build “community led alternatives to the current damaging food system”. Growing Communities runs an organic fruit and vegetable box scheme, and Stoke Newington Farmer’s Market as well as organically certified urban market gardens, which grow produce for sale through the box scheme. Their patchwork farm in Hackney also provides food for the box scheme grown in back gardens, on church land and on estates.
Their urban growing sites also provide training for apprentice growers and volunteers and they have a 1.6 hectare (4 acre) ‘Starter Farm’ in Dagenham to grow a wider variety of vegetables on a larger scale. The box scheme and Farmer’s Market supports local, sustainable farms by giving them a regular guaranteed income and helping them to create jobs in their communities. Box scheme members are encouraged to attend meetings and have a say in how the box scheme is run. One of their aims is to help other communities to transform their food through community-led box schemes through their ‘start-up’ programme.
The Growing Communities ‘Food Zones’ diagram demonstrates a conceptual framework and a vision of what a sustainable and resilient food and farming system might look like, and incorporates the urban, peri-urban and rural hinterland and shows what type of foods could best come from where. The concept therefore combines local agri-food systems (LAS) with metropolitan ones (MAS) in a conceptual and strategy way.
Further info and pictures: www.growingcommunities.org