Urban Growing

Food bank plot

By Irene Blessitt

Irene Blessitt, from Thingwell Park Allotments, writes about a community project where allotment holders have been donating fresh food to a local food bank. 

The Food Bank Plot is a community project supported by the tenants of Thingwall Park Allotments, Fishponds. In 2018 some tenants cleared two rubbish-strewn overgrown vacant plots. The aim was to grow fresh organic produce for a local food bank using seed and plant donations. It didn’t go quite to plan because of the pandemic, but we kept going, working within the restrictions.  Blaise Plant Nursery gave us lots of plants to get us going and growing.  

Fishponds Community Orchard, which is on this site, asked if we could help St Luke’s Lunch, a project in Barton Hill that provides food and activities in the school holidays for families living in poverty. We made a link with the group and have been helping them out ever since. Because of Covid-19, St Luke’s Lunch were not running the usual holiday clubs for children living in Barton Hill at that time, so instead they were providing food hampers to families in the area.

The St Luke’s Lunch Project Manager, Amy Goodwin, told us that fresh fruit is a rare treat for many of the families they are working with and so the children often got more excited about seeing the fruit than they did the biscuits! The kale and chard were also really appreciated by some of the international families who cooked a traditional stew with it. 
Obviously our plots do not produce a large quantity of food and here is the wonder of the project – in the growing season, tenants donate weekly some of their produce, not just surplus stuff but things that they think the children may like, for example raspberries and strawberries. The whole site is involved and the generosity of tenants never ceases to amaze. 

We now have a weekly session for volunteers who come along not only to help but to enjoy the green space. We are an organic no-dig site and we are still clearing and shaping the plots, which may be interesting to beginner gardeners. The Tuesday 10am-1 pm voluntary session is open to all. 

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