Charity & Community

Grow to Give, now there’s food for thought

Buckinghamshire Council is proud to be supporting ‘Grow to Give’, a community food initiative providing fresh, locally grown food to food banks and community fridges across Buckinghamshire. 

The Grow to Give scheme was set up by two Buckinghamshire growers, Justine Hamer and Sheila Bees to help people in the local community, by raising awareness of self-managed allotments, and using the surplus from these allotments to donate to their local food banks, One Can Trust and the Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse.

Last year, with the help of over 100 growers from seven Buckinghamshire allotments, Grow to Give donated over 1,600 kilos of food, giving amazing support to many local families and individuals struggling to put food on the table. With support and funding from Buckinghamshire Council and Feedback Global, this year the aim is to collect at least 2,500 kilos of locally grown fruit and veg.

Food charities have seen a huge increase in demand for food parcels with new people and families continuing to come for help. During the coronavirus crisis, food banks in Buckinghamshire reported a threefold increase in need from that in 2019. With demand remaining high, Grow to Give and Buckinghamshire Council are looking for more local growers and allotments to help ‘grow’ the scheme so they can continue to supply nutritious food to those who have fallen on hard times.

Justine and Sheila are still in awe of the generosity of local growers. The pair said: “We just can’t believe people have taken Grow to Give into their hearts so quickly, and it’s all down to our local allotment champions and fabulous growers.

“Each week it’s so uplifting seeing the fabulous produce they donate, it’s a great example of community spirit and what can be achieved working together.”

Adam Townsend, Foodbank Manager at the Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse commented: “Having fresh, seasonal, locally grown food to give our food bank clients is just fantastic! It’s even encouraged some of our customers to start growing themselves. It’s been a really tough year and the Grow to Give donations just show how much people care.”

Councillor Angela Macpherson Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “The community response to this pandemic has been nothing but remarkable. As soon as lockdown began, residents have rallied together to make sure those who were struggling could get the help, support and food they needed.

“I’m really proud of our community and would like to thank everyone that is continuing to help where it’s needed.

“We really want to support local initiatives that are delivering real benefits to our communities and Grow to Give is just that, simple and effective. We’ve never seen such demand on food banks, our job was to help Grow to Give to scale this up so that as many local people as possible across Buckinghamshire could benefit from fresh nutritious food.

“I would like to encourage even more green-fingered residents to take part. Any contribution is welcome no matter how big or small, so if you have space for a row of vegetables in your garden or a herb garden on your balcony (or even kitchen windowsill), please do join the scheme and turn your food excess into a community benefit.”

How to get involved and start your own Grow to Give scheme at your allotment

Starting your own scheme is a simple, fun and healthy way to bring your community together while helping those in need. There’s a ‘How To Start a Scheme’ toolkit on the Grow to Give website at: www.growtogive.co.uk , where you’ll also find free downloadable resources including posters to advertise the scheme at your allotment or in your local community.

In addition to this there are free online eco-friendly growing master classes in addition to recipe cards and videos showing food bank users how to make the most of the fresh food donations.

If you’d like to get involved this is the perfect time as the growing season gets underway, please email Justine Hamer at growtogive@icloud.com

For further information, visit www.growtogive.co.uk or watch the Grow to Give video on YouTube.

About the author

hiya bucks

Here at hiya bucks we go on regular walks exploring the local towns, villages, public footpaths, gardens, rivers, lakes and more! We love getting out and about discovering new places to visit and we thoroughly enjoy going to local events and getting involved with the community. We hope to inspire others to step out of their daily routines and see more of our Beautiful Buckinghamshire.