Urban Growing

Tell us what you want for food in Bristol and read the results of our survey so far

By Fleur

When we launched the Bristol Bites Back Better campaign in November, we wanted to get the conversation going and hear from the people of Bristol. We asked two simple questions, and got a wide range of answers so far, giving us insight into what Bristol citizens want to see happening in our city, and who deserves celebration. Insights Manager at cycling charity Love to Ride, Fleur, has compiled some of the responses in our latest blog post. You can still get involved!

Lots of you so far have suggested communal meals and food sharing. The Bristol Bites Back Better team couldn’t agree more about how important this is, never more so than now, when we are so cut off from one another. So, we are taking your suggestion to heart and inviting you to join people across the city at an online community feast!

Come alone, come in pairs, bring the kids or put them to bed. Bring your dinner. Perhaps bring a special recipe that you want to share with the group.

We’ll split into ‘tables’, eat together and talk about food, culture and more.

We are holding four of these dinners and you can come to as many as you like. Registration is free as always. We look forward to seeing you there!

We are continuing the food conversation and asking you to be part of co-creating a food action plan for the city. We want more of you to Join The #BiteBackBetter Conversation and tell us what you want to see happen for food in Bristol.

Read on for the results so far…

Your local area: If a few of your neighbours were interested in doing an activity around food, what activity would motivate you to get involved and why?

Group cooking activity (15%)
Communal eating, sharing food and recipes (14%)
Local food festival or street party (12%)
Sharing and learning recipes from different cultures (8%)

“Food from different cultures, because of the power of cooking and sharing food to bring people together”

“Social eating.”

“A virtual cook-along.”

“Learning from each other’s food heritage – and especially if there was a shared meal at the end of it.”

“Something to bring us together through food and festivities! I’ve been shielding all year and am lonely.”

“Probably meeting together to try different foods from different countries. Maybe cooking lessons where we can teach each other how a certain dish is made. We would be able to talk to each other and have a lovely neighbourly get together with our children, to have a chat and try different foods and learn new recipes.”

“Cultural cooking sessions. I love such a variety of food and I prefer to learn hands on from others who have experience.”

“A cooking club based around different cuisines. I love cooking and we have so many great shops to buy ingredients in and such a varied culture of food that it would be great to share experiences.”

“Opportunity to share food together. Cooperating over an on-line dinner party.”

“Community BBQ/street party – It would be great to bring everyone together next year after the tough time we’ve had this year.”

Communal growing/veg garden (13%)

Family looking at plants together

“Growing food in our local park – we need to teach children and adults how to grow, love and respect healthy food so that they can eat well and reduce climate change.”

“There’s a green space and small children’s play area by the blocks I live in and I think it would be good to try and use some of the space for a community allotment. Benefits: Neighbours getting to know each other; Knowing where food comes from; Healthy eating.”

“I would feel motivated to get involved in a small neighbourhood community plot or garden, even if it was just a strip in the patch behind our flats, where we all pitch in to offer things like funds for seeds, time to tend to the plot, and harvesting the fruit and veg. I would feel motivated to do this as I have recently moved to a new area, and it would help me get to know like-minded neighbours that I otherwise wouldn’t have the confidence to approach. I love the idea of growing food as close to home as possible, in a place where people can have real ownership and autonomy over their local green spaces, making nature work for them, and giving back to the surrounding ecosystem. I find nothing more motivating than the chance to do physical work, connect with the community, and produce delicious vegetables!”

Food support for those in need (7%)

“I believe that the activity would be solely to help others in need.  Collecting and distributing food and the odd treat to lift the spirits of those in black places.  I think we are all suffering in this pandemic and just like the war we are an army in arms together. Together to look after each other and those in real need.”

Educational activities around healthy cooking, growing eating seasonally, reducing food waste, engaging children (14%)

Child's hand planting

“Anything that helps me learn about eating more sustainably and seasonally. It’s something I’ve been trying to do around shopping more locally – but I definitely still make a lot of mistakes.”

“I love cooking and feeding, so anything to do with showing how to make the most of available produce, is right up my street.”

“Educating people about growing food at home, even in small spaces, using seasonal produce and how to use up leftovers.”

Nominate your food hero(s): Do you know someone in your neighbourhood doing good things around food that you think should be more widely acknowledged and celebrated? Who are they and what are they doing that inspires you? 

Community Care Package (15 mentions)

Here are just some of the lovely comments people left about Community Care Package, a scheme delivering free boxes of essential food to anyone who needs them. This scheme is organised by volunteers from the local community: Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls Sports and Social Club, The Plough InnThe Pipe & Slippers, The Lion, The Love Inn and the Star and Garter, co-ordinated with Aid Box Community, Project MAMA, National Food Service and Base and Roses:

“I am so fortunate to have been helped by The Plough and partners, who have delivered a beautiful vegetable box and really kept me going. This is a grassroots endeavour to ensure people are well fed and considered in these strange times. Not only that, but I also received several generous donations from my neighbours in the Dings Park area, Base and Roses too. How locals have clubbed together is just marvellous, when other support networks could not. This has really improved my general sense of happiness and well-being, I feel supported by those around me and more hopeful for the future.”

“These are a group of absolute angels.  I receive a fresh fruit and veg box every Tuesday which also contains little treats sometimes and even treats for my two elderly dogs on occasion!”

“I would never be able to afford the contents of this box as I am disabled, divorced and still not in receipt of a pension (WASPI woman aged 64).  I have also been advised to isolate as I have had part of my lung removed (cancer) have severe asthma and a radiated colon which means I have to be extremely careful with regard to my diet. I simply cannot thank them enough for their kindness and truly hope they are recognised for the inspirational and positively outstanding group of wonderful volunteers they absolutely are.”

“Angelo, Rosie and the team at The Plough organising the veg box delivery!! Heroes!”

FOOD (Food On Our Doorstep) Clubs (12 mentions)

The FOOD Clubs are a partnership between organisations including Family Action, Feeding Bristol, Bristol Early Years and FareShare South West and provide good-quality food at a low cost, while also reducing food waste. The FOOD Clubs at Barton Hill, St Pauls, Inns Court and Hartcliffe were often mentioned as lifelines:

“Barton Hill Settlement – amazing people. Incredible with the FOOD Club, you get £15 worth of food for £3.00. They love helping the community, we love them for helping us single mums.”

“St. Paul’s Children’s Centre doing FOOD Club for families. This helps me and my children eat healthy as well as somewhere to go to see regular faces and a place you ain’t judged.”

“St Paul’s Children Centre is a lifeline for families. They also provide nappies and toiletries and have given useful recipes for people on a budget. They’re also there if you just need someone to talk to.”

Mike Feingold & Royate Hill Community Allotment and Orchard (7 mentions)

Mike Feingold rescued the Royate Hill allotments in Bristol from development in the 1980s, and divided the space up between locals. He is regarded as a Bristol legend and permaculture celebrity in the city. He regularly demonstrates the permaculture principles used at Royate Hill at festivals.

“Mike offers access to his allotment where he grows fruits and veggies inspired by permaculture principle. Two Saturday a month you can go there, work, enjoy the company and go back home with loads of food. It’s just very simple and lovely.”

“Mike Feingold at Royate Hill community allotment inspires me. He collects up waste food for hungry people, builds community around growing food, and in non pandemic times loves to share food with people.”

Permaculture enthusiast Mike Feingold © Chris Hoare / Bristol Photo Festival 2020
Permaculture enthusiast Mike Feingold © Chris Hoare / Bristol Photo Festival 2020

Lucy Mitchell & Golden Hill Community Garden (6 mentions)

“Golden Hill Community Garden, who have created an amazing facility and involved and inspired so many local people with food growing skills and many other growing-related activities for all sorts of groups of users.”

“Definitely Lucy Mitchell, at Golden Hill Community Garden. She harnesses her skills so well to enthuse and excite everyone about the wonders of gardening. Her project brings together so many people, young and old, and finds a shared space and motive. I have learned a lot about the possibilities for food growing in Bristol, and what a group can achieve with a bit of ambition and a lot of hard work. The project is so inspiring, and Lucy heads it with limitless energy. Definitely a local food hero in my eyes!”

Jo Boswell & Sol Harmsworth & Heart of BS13 (6 mentions)

Heart of BS13 produce

“Jo Boswell and Sol Harmsworth know and have taught me a lot about herbs, new and interesting salad leaves, lots of great recipes with vegetables I never tried before, and they do it as part of a community enterprise, ie to make the world a better place, so hats off, they get my vote.”

“Eco delivery of veg boxes, grown minutes away from our house and delivered at a fair cost.

They also use their produce to provide free meals for anyone who needs it. A great initiative from all angles!”

“Heart of BS13. Providing food unquestioningly to those in need.”

Other individual heroes

“A volunteer for Bristol ROADS Freja has supported women in particular for me my only conversation and connection through this whole year nothing was ever too much from arranging food bank and cooked food parcels. She inspires me.”

“Rachel from Super Supper Club. She works full time and during the week in the evenings she collects surplus food from supermarket and makes meals for anyone who needs them in BS5. No questions asked. She’s a true hero.”

“Lots of my neighbours donate food every week which I take along to Family Action to distribute to local schools and community centres for families. It’s very humbling and marvellous to have so many neighbours, and other local streets, taking part in this kind of much-needed support. Emily on Effingham Road who coordinates the collections is marvellous.”

“Harriet and Phil Ridland – they have brought us together as a community this year in ways I could not have imagined. From organising us to get food parcels ready for local organisations to building a poly tunnel from scratch to support even more food growing. They are the most kind hearted, generous souls we’ve come across in our 10 years in Bristol.”

“Her name’s Racheal at St Agnes Park, St. Paul’s and she’s got a team cooking big amounts of food to help people and families who are stuggling during this lockdown.”

“Really impressed with Heather Mack who has set up Crews Hole Community Garden, beside the River Avon Trail that runs beside the river, just behind the houses along Crews Hole.”

Jo Ingleby, Director of The Children's Kitchen

Another local food hero is Jo Ingleby, Director of The Children’s Kitchen who works for Bristol FOOD Clubs. She writes for the Bristol Bites Back Better blog about the importance of being able to cook a meal from scratch with simple, fresh, affordable ingredients. The significance of this essential skill has been highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis, as dealing with shortages of certain ingredients is – of course – far less stressful when we know how to easily adapt meals.

Read more about the work of The Kitchen Garden Enterprise, part of the Heart of BS13 charity tackling food insecurity and health inequalities in Hartcliffe and Withywood. Finally, check out this Bristol Growing Map produced by Chris Hoare (commissioned by Bristol Photo Festival) documenting growers around the city. Mike Feingold and other local growing heroes are featured.

By setting the wheels in motion now, together we can transform the future of food in our city, building in resilience over the next decade. 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.

Lead image © Community Care Package.

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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