Tag Archives: community project

Growing Communities – transforming the food industry through local projects

I discovered this inspiring project last year when I was looking for voluntary work. I started volunteering at their gardens at Springfield Park in Hackney and really loved the experience of meeting people in my local area over a shared activity and learning new things!

What do they do?
main_column_float_mednopotsveg1. Organic Box Scheme: choose what type of organic fruit and veg bags you want in your box and choose a pick-up point local to you from which to collect it. All food is grown as close to Hackney as possible; either in their local urban market gardens, patchwork farm or their new starter farm. All food is sourced from small-scale, local, organic and bio-dynamic growers. The prices are here, and there is a discount for pensioners.

2. Urban food growing: volunteers grow food (specializing in salad leaves) in market gardens in Hackney: Clissold Park, Springfield Park and Allens Gardens. They also have farms: Patchwork (a collection of plots in Hackney) and Startup in Dagenham. Anyone is welcome to visit and check it out.

Growing Communities: growing a network

Growing Communities has been doing amazing work empowering people to create their own suchlike projects through their Start-up Programme.

So far, nine community-led box schemes have emerged: Burnley Crop Share, Let’s Eat Local, Moffat, Local Greens, Herne Hill, London, the Windmill Community Box scheme, Margate, Vegbox, Kentish Town, London,  Field to Fork, Kensal Rise, London Cropdrop in Haringey, Enfield Veg Co, London and Organic Ilford, London.

Why do they do it?

Issues of rapid urbanisation and climate change present challenges of sustainability in cities. Growing Communities believe we need to localise. They want to encourage people to reconnect to the source of their nourishment by growing and delivering good quality, organic vegetables and fruits that have all been locally grown with care and consideration of the ecosystems in place (bio-dynamic approach).
They have a manifesto where they discuss the problem and how we can change things. They set out the vision of what is meant by sustainable and resilient in their key principles. They do this work because they care about the future of people in cities adapting to challenges and re-connecting to the source of our food.

Find out more, hear stories and get involved

You can find out more on their website, by following their blog and twitter. To get involved you can volunteer or even become an urban apprentice.


Talk to Me, I’ll Talk to You –providing the tools and spaces for strangers to come together to talk

badge-to-buttonMy adventure with this project started one rainy London day in Springtime. I was taking a walk down Kingsland High Street when I noticed some people giving ‘free hugs’. I very rarely say no to a hug so I went over, arms open. The huggers then invited me to a free community meal at a local live music venue (Passing Clouds). I had plans so couldn’t go… but I was curious. So I asked the strangers who hugged me: Where does the food come from? Who cooks it? Is this regular? They told me it was on every Sunday and that people just like me cook and donate the food. Then they told me about the project: I talk to Strangers – and that they collaborate with The People’s Kitchen. So I joined the facebook group and since then I have been a huge fan of this fast growing movement: Talk to Me, I’ll Talk to You

What is it?

A not-for-profit social movement which tries to get people in London talking by creating open social spaces with welcoming atmospheres to remind people howgood a conversation with a total stranger can be; on an every day to day basis.

What do they do?

They find and collaborate with certain cafés which are open spaces that help culture grow; with people that care about you and treat you like a person not just a customer. Through events in the cafés they encourage strangers to talk authentically to one another about anything! They also provide tools such as badges with simp600_374259512le statements that you are open to conversation. The badges can be a great way to connect with strangers on the streets, underground, bus stops…anywhere. The big ‘Talk to Me Day’ in August had a variety of events all over London: picnics in parks, interactive theatre, panel debates on talking to strangers, ‘talk street’ and socials in cafés. Being a big fan, I helped out on ‘talk street’ in Neal’s Yard. I had a truly amazing day.

Why do they do it?

icon1Because they believe that having a conversation with a stranger should be ‘a simple choice, not a huge cultural challenge’. Often people in London don’t speak to each other simply because they think it is not the ‘norm’ and they don’t know how the other person would respond: it can seem scary. But spontaneously meeting a stranger can lead to a great friendship or simply put a smile on your face. Another aim is to overcome hesitation around interacting with different kinds of people, regardless of age, gender, culture, or ‘types’ of people. Conversations with people we don’t know can be very interesting. Unlike friends, families and partners there is no attachment to a stranger. You can tell them anything and they can give you their unique and impartial perspective. You can share moments of connection without expecting to ever see them again. Often you do see them again; after all, every friend you have was once a stranger.

Find out more, hear stories and get involved

The best way to find out more, hear stories and get involved is to come to one of the next events. Visit the websites. To keep up to date with events join the facebook, meetup or streetlife groups.