Grow, Cook, Share

South Shropshire is helping local people to eat more fruit and vegetables, by integrating schools, communities and home-based gardeners with cookery training and a distribution scheme

Grow, Cook, Share is a four-year project set up to support local people producing their own food and learning or relearning cooking skills.”We are hoping to plant some seeds, literally and metaphorically, and then see what sprouts,” said Valerie Meehan, project co-ordinator. “By linking the chain of growing your own fruit and veg, with cooking healthy food from scratch and enjoying eating well, we hope to really promote well-being within our local communities.”

Recently launched, the scheme runs a large garden behind the Discovery Centre in Craven Arms, which has 60 individual plots, as well as shared areas. A communal garden has also been developed at the Rockspring Centre in Ludlow.

Grow, Cook, Share’s ethos of sharing, and community spirit has broad appeal that spans across generations. Existing gardens and gardening clubs are being expanded and revamped at several local primary schools, with the practical help of community gardener, Sarah Robinson and aided by teams of willing volunteers.

An allotment for young people is also being developed in Ludlow, as well as ‘garden gang’ schemes, where residents can help elderly or less-abled neighbours, swap skills, seedlings or even growing space. Community plot-holders are also cultivating seedlings, which can then be freely distributed to other participants, or sold to raise money.

The project’s £300,000 cost is being largely met by a Big Lottery Fund grant, as well as £42,000 from Leader, a pan-European rural development fund. “It’s still only early days,” said Valerie, “and it’s never going to be about making any profit; it’s just covering running costs. Eventually, our goal is to be sustainable. Throughout the growing season, we’ll have a stall at Craven Arms Farmers’ Market, where those involved can sell their produce. We’re hoping that children will be able to grow delicious vegetables at their schools and invite their parents for meals made from the food they’ve grown. We are also planning events at community centres where people can sell their surplus or cook and eat together.”

The project welcomes volunteers and donations of garden tools and seeds
Contact: Grow, Cook and Share,
Tel: +44 (0)1588 676277

Working in the community
garden in Craven Arms, Shropshire
Photo: © Becky Daniel