'Foodbank fresh' project

A new fresh food community project has been launched at Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse.

The food growing scheme ‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ opened this week to provide home grown fruit and vegetables at one of the town’s main foodbanks.

Councillor Bill Chapple OBE, Vice Chairman of the Aylesbury Garden Town Board, said: ‘Not only is it great for keeping active in the fresh air and giving your mental health a boost, but it connects people together, creating closer-knit neighbourhoods in Aylesbury”

Buckinghamshire Council’s Public Health service, Aylesbury Garden Town and Storehouse are all involved. The project unites local volunteers to run the garden and grow fresh produce that can be shared through the foodbank.

The community garden was officially opened by Mr Chapple and Town Mayor Anders Christensen.

It coincided with a community family lunch event (pictured) at the Vineyard Church, where people had the chance to see the garden and the impressive range of fruit and vegetables that are already coming through, including tomatoes, peppers, leeks and more.

Mr Chapple added: ‘It’s fantastic to see everyone coming together for the launch of the garden at Storehouse. We hope that many local people will get involved, as community food growing has so many benefits.’

Getting the garden established on a piece of rough ground at the side of the foodbank’s offices proved quite a challenge, as it had to be completely cleared and revamped before raised beds and a pathway could be installed.

Dave Furze from charity Community Grow worked with a team from Community Payback to achieve this, with support from a team of staff volunteers from the new Sainsbury’s Gatehouse store.

Adam Townsend, Foodbank Manager at Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse said: ‘We’re really grateful to everyone who’s helped get the garden up and running.

‘It’s fantastic to be able to offer our foodbank clients fresh produce that’s grown here on site and they can also get involved with growing and cooking it, too, and learning new skills.’

The garden is the first of five such projects to be rolled out across the county by the council. The scheme is open to anyone who would like to take part in producing healthy, nutritious food and also enjoying classes in how to prepare and cook fruit and vegetables.

Councillor Angela Macpherson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: ‘As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen many more people across Bucks dealing with hardship and increased food poverty, leading to a major impact on mental health and social isolation.

‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ helps tackle some of these challenges, giving communities the chance to grow food sustainably together and encouraging healthy eating.’

The Grow It Cook It Eat It launch at Aylesbury Vineyard Church.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the project at Storehouse should contact storehouse@aylesburyvineyard.org