Charity & Community Food & Drink

Council encouraging residents to grow it, cook it, eat it

Buckinghamshire Council is proud to be supporting a community growing initiative called ‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ to help members of the community who are struggling to put fresh and nutritious food on their table.

‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ is what it says on the tin. It’s a community-led growing and cooking project. Working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders including Community Boards, Residents Associations, Bucks Food Partnership, wider Buckinghamshire Council teams (including, communities, libraries, leisure) and local community engagement, four ‘growing sites’ were identified.

Local residents are encouraged to visit their local growing site 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 family. Any surplus produce is donated to local food banks and community fridges across Buckinghamshire.

The growing sites have been up and running since May 2021, and are based at Desborough Road Allotments and Micklefield Library in High Wycombe, Vineyard Food Bank in Aylesbury 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 who is on-hand to offer help and guidance to anyone who doesn’t know their cucumbers from their courgettes and can offer a wealth of advice on how to get started. In addition to this, ‘bite size’ training opportunities are available to all residents so that everyone can access information and advice so that they can grow their own food at an allotment, in their own garden or in a window box.

One-hour online sessions are being delivered 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 your growing site. Additionally, Aylesbury Garden Town have supported the development of marketing materials, creating a uniform approach across all sites.

Councillor Angela Macpherson Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“The aim of ‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ is to provide a space for local residents to use as their own to grow fresh and healthy produce, free from pesticides and herbicides which can then be turned into nutritious meals. 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.

“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.

“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. It really is a very simple and I strongly urge residents to get involved.”

For further information please visit the project website at: healthandwellbeingbucks.org 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.