Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) is one of 13 organisations that got a Sustainable Food Places grant to run a Veg Cities campaign in 2020. Initial plans included cooking and growing classes and workshops in schools and community settings, alongside collaboration with Aberdeen Council, NHS Grampian Local and other local organisations in the Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP) to reduce obesity in the Torry area of Aberdeen.
After the Covid-19 lockdown, all activity that required face-to-face events had to be put on hold. As in many other places around the country, there was a huge surge in interest in growing our own food. CFINE, alongside One Seed Forward, Tullos Community Garden, and Granite City Good Food came together to support the local community in the Torry area with access to seeds and garden inputs.
The first packs of seeds were distributed via e-bikes during the Covid-19 lockdown and an initial 50 packs have been distributed in the Torry area of the city. Transportation was one area that was impacted significantly by the lockdown measures introduced as a result Covid-19 but e-bikes provided a more efficient and sustainable means of transportation to ensure seed distribution continued during this period.
In addition to seeds and growing packs delivered at home, Tullos Community Garden set up a plant sharing box to support those who receive the growing packs at home and end up with too many seedlings. Excess plants can be left for others visiting the garden that want to have a go at growing their own. This is also a good way to get new people into the Tullos garden and aware of their local community garden.
This pilot was rolled out to other areas of the city with funding from Aberdeen City Council and donations. 250 growing packs have now been delivered to households throughout Aberdeen alongside materials for gardening activities for vulnerable children, as part of a summer ‘Food and Fun’ programme. Unexpectedly, the call for donations also brought in many plant donations from allotment holders that have been delivered to eight community garden projects throughout the city. CFINE is now running cooking sessions to inspire people to creatively use the produce they have grown.
Sustain are encouraging more areas to launch Veg Cities campaigns and get local businesses and organisations making veg pledges. Veg Cities is a feature campaign of Sustainable Food Places and is run in partnership with Peas Please.