Food for thought...

A community initiative called ‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ is under way to help people struggling to put fresh and nutritious food on the table.

The community-led growing and cooking project has identified four ‘growing sites’, supported by community boards, residents’ associations, Bucks Food Partnership, Buckinghamshire Council teams (including, communities, libraries, leisure) and local community involvement.

Councillor Angela Macpherson, deputy leader and cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: ‘There is a huge community element to the project, bringing everyone together in the fresh air. Looking after plants is therapeutic, plus you get the added benefit of growing your own food, which gives a huge sense of achievement.’

People are being encouraged to visit local growing sites and learn how to grow, maintain and harvest the crops. They can then use the fresh produce they have helped to grow to provide healthy meals for themselves and their families.

Any surplus produce is donated to local food banks and community fridges across the county.

The growing sites have been up and running since May 2021, based at Vineyard Food Bank in Aylesbury, Desborough Road Allotments and Micklefield Library in High Wycombe and Waterside Academy School in Chesham.

The team is already looking to expand further and are exploring sites in the Buckingham and Iver area.

Each site has its own dedicated expert gardener on-hand to offer help and guidance and can offer advice on how to get started. ‘Bite size’ training opportunities are available to all residents so that everyone can find information and advice so that they can grow their own food at an allotment, in their own garden or even in a window box.

One-hour online sessions are being offered in collaboration with Bucks Adult Learning. The sessions cover growing topics such as weed and pest control through to seed saving and getting the most out of a growing site.

Additionally, Aylesbury Garden Town have supported the development of marketing materials.

Councillor Macpherson added: ‘There is no membership, no cost and you don’t have to commit to anything, just go to your local grow site when you have some spare time.

‘If you’d like to get involved, all you need to do is turn up at the site, sow some seeds, tend to the plants and everyone who helps on a site is welcome to take produce home.

‘You don’t need to bring seeds or equipment (unless you want to) because each allotment has been given a starter kit.’

Visit the project website and select the ‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ tab and all the contact details for each site can be found on the ‘Community Growing Sites’ tab.