North Ayrshire Foodbank has recognised from an early start that more can be done than simply handing out food on an emergency basis That is why we started what has become known as the GRUB club (a great name thought up by Valerie Howe, our nutritional lecturer) which stands for “Grow, Reap, Utilise and Benefit. This group has been meeting on a Tuesday afternoon for three-years growing and cooking food in the polytunnel and raised flower beds.
As we looked around the Town we realised that there were lots of dead spots and under utilised areas or areas of no-beauty. We began to wonder if those areas could be used more productively for the benefit of all. Thus the idea of developing Ardrossan into a “Food Town” was considered and floated and generally accepted as sound in principle.
To do so would need partners and the Three Towns Growers are currently developing their educational centre and we aspire to have our “Urban farmers” trained there and using their skills in the wider community – growing food wherever it can be grown. North Ayrshire Councils StreetScene gave blessing to the concept and two pieces of land were identified.
Urban farming is a world wide phenomena. A recent study indicated that the food grown in urban areas is a 20th of all food grown world wide. This food is used for the urban poor, community kitchens, niche cafes and commercial operators.
The reason is simple. Food insecurity is a growing phenomenon. I attach a few reports to the website which I have traced but cannot say how authorities they are not being an expert. So please read but keep an open mind.
Food does not need to be grown in a field. It can apparently grow anywhere where the main conditions are provided – water and light (scientists please do not faint – everybody will realise I am being over simplistic). It can be grown outside, indoors, in soils, in water, up walls, raised flower beds or even on roof tops. Again, I have collated as an non-expert some examples.
The Foodbank is still interested even though we have been slow to actually do anything about it. Over 2018 we would like to see if Ardrossan can improve local access to food by careful planning of areas within the town to grow edibles.
Naturally, I personally, would like to see the whole town covered in life sustaining edible crops readily available to all. But, I am allowed to dream.
The Foodbank will be enquiring of Auchcrieve to see how a study could be organised to see what such a concept would look like – fruit bearing tree lined avenues, vegetables and fruit grown on derelict area, crops being grown in unused commercial buildings or an Eden like facility with attractive domes harvesting crops and supporting other wild life essential to crop development (environment – ecology – agriculture – would these be appropriate words?).
As a member of the North Ayrshire Fairer Food Reference group I have stated the above a few times and to date the Foodbank has not progressed the idea but would like to actually do something about it over 2018. If anybody with a similar consideration wants to get in touch please do so via our contacts page. If anybody with an expertise in an appropriate science would like to be part of the exploratory group we would love to ehar from you.
In the meantime GRUB will continue to grow and cook their local food and anybody who would like a raised bed can get in touch. We have several going spare. There will be no fee, all equipment will be available. Allwe would ask is that a portion of the crop is given to the work of the foodbank. An order has just been placed for a Homebiogas bio digester and we are looking forward to using food waste for the production of gas and fertiliser. Sammi steps, but steps towards the bigger picture of addressing food insecurity.
The above are just thought provokes. No doubt others have better expertise on what would work to ensure food grows all year round in our climate.