Urban Growing

RISE Social Enterprise: Working towards a fairer food system for all

By Rosa Beesley

Rosa Beesley of The Matthew Tree Project writes in our latest blog post about how their vital work as part of RISE Social Enterprise fits in with the Food Equality element of Going for Gold.

Our main objective is to tackle and eradicate poverty. We believe that in 21st century Britain, with such abundance and affluence there is no excuse for the level of poverty people still experience. Food is our vehicle to educate, empower and help people move on from entrenched systematic deprivation. We are tackling this by starting at the heart of the problem.

Filwood and Hartcliffe are within the 10% most deprived wards in the UK. In Filwood we have established our Rebuilding Lives support centre and are developing a community kitchen, café and shop on Filwood Broadway. We have two food growing sites, one in Hartcliffe and the other in Brislington, seeding the local food economy within deprived communities and offering them the opportunity to permeate and advocate for positive social change.

On our RISE Talbot Rd site in Brislington we have been offering weekly drop-in sessions since June 2018 welcoming regular volunteers and giving them the chance to learn practical growing skills and be part of a community-based project. In Spring 2019 we began growing at Hartcliffe Farm. Since then we have established regular volunteers who have been working to sow, plant and harvest a brilliant range of fresh produce. In total we have had approximately 50 volunteers attend our drop-in sessions, giving anything from one to five hours.

Since March 2019 we have grown and redistributed 363kg of food to our clients. In the month of September we harvested 1659 meals of fresh produce, at a market value of £483 (this is the record kept via the Harvest-Ometer on The Big Dig website).

Additionally, we have started to offer regular Employee Engagement days, welcoming groups from Bristol Poverty Institute (Bristol University) and Pukka Teas. A day of team building and positive shared experience in exchange for valuable support in developing our growing sites into productive and therapeutic spaces. Getting involved in corporate volunteering or team-building days is an action that organisations can take as part of Going for Gold.

The Matthew Tree Project and RISE Social Enterprise are both working to implement a more equal food system where communities have sovereignty over their systems and services. We redistribute 100 tonnes of food waste every year and are now growing in two urban spaces to encourage healthier eating and happier wellbeing. As an organisation, one of your Going for Gold actions could be to organise a fundraising activity for a food project such as RISE, or you could organise this as an individual.

Looking forward…

We are in conversation with Community Learning from Bristol Council to host Horticulture Level 1 courses at our site in Hartcliffe. We have an ambition to offer not only accredited courses but also placements and training schemes for larger scale market gardening.

RISE will be offering a programme of seasonal events; topical workshops around growing techniques and land processes; seminars led by visiting tutors; family-orientated events and also hosting others groups, allowing them to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of our site.

If you would like to find out more about the project join us at Hartcliffe Community Farm for our autumnal event on 30th November 12-4pm celebrating the work achieved across The Matthew Tree Project and RISE in the last year, thanking the countless volunteers, clients, trustees and staff involved in making everything we do possible – and of course welcoming any new faces! There will be food, music and crafty activities.

Find us on Facebook and Instagram as @risesocialenterprise or email rosa.beesley@the-matthew-tree-project.org if you want to get involved.

Rosa Beesley has been working with The Matthew Tree Project for around a year. Alongside a team of amazing volunteers, she is developing the community food growing sites. Rosa has always been interested in the power of food to bring positive environmental and social change. To support her work with RISE, she is studying Agroecology and Food Sovereignty.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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