July 2021 – The story so far
“We struck gold when we connected with a fledgling project called Wellsbourne Community Project.”
We initially spent a good few months thinking deeply about how to kick-start food growing projects in Brighton. We wanted to develop a model that would establish resilient local groups that had the potential to be partially or fully self-funding. We were very aware that a strong foundation would be needed, put in place early, so that the project (for those involved) would feel at the epicenter of the community, the “heart” so to speak. A good growing space would have to be identified along with a core group of willing volunteers to empower and develop the vision.
Being in a City we realised that targeting Community groups already set up on the limited growing spaces available would be a good place to start. On reflection and not surprisingly, established groups met our initial offer, “to work in partnership, share our skills, knowledge and resources” with some resistance. It seems that a lot of projects felt they were already functioning as they wanted to – whether by receiving their own funding and growing for food banks or headed by people with growing knowledge and expertise that was already being imparted and shared. Increasing capacity and developing a micro CSA type model was of no interest. However, fortunately, we struck gold when we connected with a fledgling project called Wellsbourne Community Project in Whitehawk. we found all the afore mentioned and more – a hunger to grow and a willingness to be open to support : )
Wellsbourne Community Project:
The project has a fair amount of land, some already planted with fruit and nut trees with a designated area for an outside theatre and social gathering space. A lot of previous thought had been invested into designs for the projects outside space (Brighton Permaculture Trust). Wishing to pay due respect to these we could immediately envisage the “potential” growing areas that could be worked into this design.
At our introductory session we met with some very enthusiastic budding growers and agreed with the project’s passionate volunteer coordinator Mala how we might proceed. We were all clear that a community project needs a strong purpose having activities to perform each week for the volunteers to find meaningful involvement and regular, plentiful produce to boost the health of the community. To this end we developed the programme of forthcoming activities for the diary – (see below)
Arriving on the second session with a load of plants to be transplanted that day was a great focus for the session and the task was taken up keenly by the volunteer team and had an instant positive effect. It highlighted to them what they would, with time, be able to achieve and develop. The next sessions would involve sowing their own seed and transplanting 100s of new plants that we have been cultivating for their site.
Our plan for the first half of the project is to offer time for discussion onsite to understand their aspirations and begin to develop the food growing side of their community space. We will give support and advice where needed. We will also start to demonstrate the “how” to run volunteer sessions with a focus on growing – sharing our knowledge and skills along the way. The core group of volunteers will be able to start to harvest some of the vegetables grown this season and deliver as micro CSA Shares during late summer and into Autumn. It was agreed that the group would be best placed to identify the recipients. Being attached to the local Health Centre also provides the opportunity to give Shares away to some of their patients. Interest from some of the GPs working within the practice offers the prospect of funding potential in the future from fruit and veg ‘ prescription’ Shares.
We have advised a Harvest Festival for mid Sept to shout out to the locals and celebrate what is happening in their area, inviting people to come along and get involved or bring an idea and participate in development of the group however you can.
The group expects to deliver micro CSA Summer Shares to 3 or 4 families each session. The initial Shares will consist of the produce we have taken there as transplants, that the group has cared for and grown on – cucumbers courgettes, peppers, runner beans, spinach, chard, tomatoes and lettuce. Simple paper packaging will be used. These Shares will be delivered by foot and will be accompanied by a welcoming postcard explaining the food distribution aims of the group.
We expect a core group of 4 each week with a handful of volunteers to start with. Depending on the promotion taken on by Mala, we expect a good turn out at the Harvest Festival Day
We have so far devised the following PROGRAMME for the group:
WELLSBOURNE COMMUNITY PROJECT – OVERVIEW
ONSITE Practical SESSIONS
Location – Wellsbourne – Practical help and guidance on your growing site with some of our team and your volunteers (8 x Sessions 2.5hrs each)
- 6th and 20th July 2021
- 3rd and 17th August 2021
- 14th and 28th September 2021
- 22nd 29th March 2022
ONSITE Practical SESSIONS
Location – Brighton CSA- Fork and Dig It CIC – Site and season specific tasks on our growing site to teach and demonstrate necessary skills (24 sessions, 5hrs each)
Principles and Practise of Organic Food Production
- 12 x 5hr sessions Fridays 10am – 3pm Oct – Dec
- 12 x 5hr sessions Fridays 10am – 3pm Jan – Mar
OFFSITE theoretical SESSIONS
Location – Whitehawk. Venue TBC, 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Principles and Practise of Organic Food Production (6 x Tutorials 2hrs each)
- 13th Oct 2021
- 10th Nov 2021
- 15th Dec 2021
- 12th Jan 2022
- 9th Feb 2022
- 9th March 2022
SEEDS, PLANTS and EQUIPMENT
- July 2021 – 100s of plants and plugs delivered to transplant direct into growing space
- Mar 2022 – 100 s of plants and plugs to transplant direct into growing space plus the seasons leafy green seeds (spinach/ chard)
- Equipment provided as needed
ADVICE and SUPPORT throughout programme.