Growing Communities in Hackney - Food Hero
Kath Dalmeny Policy Director at Sustain
23rd Oct 2012
Julie Brown and the team at Growing Communities in Hackney are paving the way with a locally run social enterprise
I'd like to nominate as a GROW food hero the AMAZING team at Growing Communities in Hackney and in particular their inspirational director and tireless local food hero, Julie Brown.
Growing Communities has been running for about 15 years. They are a thriving social enterprise feeding more than 3,500 people a week with sustainably produced food from local farmers, Hackney-grown salad and Fairtrade certified fruit, to support farmers from developing countries as well.
The not-for-profit social enterprise is run by a fabulous team of people who work incredibly hard to make a nearly £0.5m turnover food trading enterprise successful. Even in the recession, it is going from strength to strength. They really are an inspiration.
Growing Communities runs a box scheme (packing well over 1,000 bags of fruit and veg a week) and the only certified organic farmers' market in the UK. They also run an urban food growing apprentice scheme and other volunteering and education programmes.
As well as feeding local people with local and sustainably produced food, Growing Communities also helps create good jobs in food distribution in East London, and reliable incomes for small-scale local farmers, who they are dedicated to supporting. Growing Communities has also recently launched a national Start-up Programme to train communities in running sustainable food distribution schemes that support farmers and can cross-subsidise other community work, by providing expert mentoring to help replicate the success of Growing Communities and help more communities take back control of
So - very excitingly - there are now new community food trading enterprises operating in Burnley, Margate, Herne Hill, Kentish Town and Manchester, working with the Growing Communities model, meaning that these communities are now building resilient community food trading schemes that can be economically viable as well as environmentally sustainable and involving farmers and the community.
This is the way we can change the world in a thoroughly enjoyable way, and feed ourselves and our families really well to boot!