Taking a strategic and collaborative approach to good food governance and action

Positive food change can be enabled through grassroots action and innovation. Plymouth has many ongoing projects that build the vital knowledge, skills and capacity to make that change happen. Food Plymouth has a range of community food activists who share ideas and resources with others, thus creating opportunities for knowledge exchange and positive action around food. This includes:

In pursuit of the Silver Award we will add value to the great work that is already going on in our communities to connect people through food. We want to strengthen local communities’ sense of agency and connectedness and their ability to reduce food poverty through solutions developed by themselves.

Several food growing projects in the city which were already underway were foundation partners when Food Plymouth was formed in 2010. Others were less actively involved but their valuable work still contributed to the Local Food Charter initiative and subsequent developments, including the Sustainable Food Places action plan.

Food Growing

Major landowners in the city, notably Plymouth City Council and Housing Associations, are generally open to community groups creating such growing spaces on suitable stretches of their ground. One measure of the extent and quality of this commitment is the fact that Plymouth currently has numerous edible landscape projects, more than 40 community gardens and 43 known community orchards.

Projects which have been instrumental in Food Plymouth’s development include: The Dig for Devonport edible landscape initiative and the All Ways Apples Festival which is its flagship; the Permaculture Allotment group; the Beacon Garden Project; the Friends of Ham Woods; Grow Stonehouse; and Plymouth City Council initiatives such as Stepping Stones to Nature (SS2N), the Active Neighbourhoods team and the City Farm project at Poole Farm.

Other food growing projects which have contributed significantly to Food Plymouth’s action plans include: Union Corner; Diggin’ It Penlee / CROP; the Horticultural Therapy Trust; Keyham Green Places; the Central Park Allotment Association; the Collings Park Trust; The Allotment Project (TAP) in Efford; the Friends of Freedom Fields Park; the East End Community Garden; Friends of Radford Woods.

Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, Food Plymouth is working to develop a stronger community growing movement within the city. Growing, foraging and harvesting the abundance of seasonal food is fundamental to this. To this end, Food Plymouth is developing the Growing Community Abundance initiative. This is designed to enable local people to gain the knowledge and skills needed to support the established, emerging and latent community growing projects across Plymouth. It will also contribute to Plymouth’s progression to Sustainable Food Cities silver standard.

The Growing Community Abundance project will meet identified needs around:

  • Building local peoples’ basic gardening skills and social skills, enabling them to become knowledgeable, skilled and confident to help these growing spaces to thrive;
  • Co-creating a core group of experienced people with the right mix of skills is required to inspire, facilitate and support community growing projects;
  • Providing a suitable network to support these people, co-designed/co-created with them to meet current and future needs. This will involve:
    • Co-designing and co-facilitating four dedicated growing community gatherings with knowledge and skill sharing opportunities, thereby increasing connectivity, skills-sharing and promoting best practice within and between community growing projects to create a strong network and sharing forum. This will be achieved through celebrating edible landscapes across the city, a community seed swap and shared growing event, a seedling and plant swap and a workshop around seed saving and harvesting produce;
    • Enabling Food Plymouth’s engagement in 12 community events, thereby enabling the Growing Community Abundance project to reach beyond the ‘usual suspects’. This will include engaging with community events across the city during 2019, with Food Plymouth supporting local community growing projects in showcasing their work and building their own connections. Seasonal abundance and local potential will be highlighted as part of this;
    • Building and mentoring a network of empowered local growers. This will include identifying, mentoring and supporting local people in growing and people skills, leading to volunteering and/or paid community growing opportunities and establishing Action Learning Sets to facilitate on-going learning; and
    • Enhancing Food Plymouth’s All Ways Apples Festival and Fringe 2019, including highlighting and showcasing the Growing Community Abundance project and its people at the Festival. All Ways Apples is all about celebrating communities and autumn abundance, bringing people together, sharing knowledge and skills, supporting local community groups in caring for their fruit trees and using / sharing the fruit. It is therefore an ideal platform for such activity.