Credit: Hull Food Partnership
The first of these events was a day of talks and workshops for community groups wanting to learn how to grow food. Topics were chosen to lay down a foundation of practical knowledge which could be taken away and put into practice. Hull Afro Caribbean Centre was chosen as the venue because they have plans to grow vegetables such as kale, yams and root crops in their garden. Sessions included practical and theory on ‘growing with families’, ‘growing with volunteers’, ‘community growing basics’, and ‘horticulture as therapy’. A number of community organisations from all across the city attended and were treated to a healthy plant-based buffet with spicy squash soup for lunch.
Later in January, a one-day ‘Grow-to-sell’ course was organised with a local entrepreneur who shared expert knowledge learnt from running a successful local veg box scheme. The course worked through financial planning, infrastructure design, crop planning and marketing. One positive outcome of the day has been that one community group who attended are starting their own veg box scheme, supplying 20 residents in their area of Hull later this year.
The final event, supported by the Transition and Permaculture Hull, Jubilee Central and Timebank Hull & East Riding, was a city-wide seed swap where budding and experienced gardening enthusiasts had the opportunity to bring along surplus seeds to exchange.
A city-wide seed swap had not taken place in Hull for a few years, so the event was welcomed by the community and was attended by 200 people, with many bringing in surplus seeds to exchange. Seeds were sorted into families of plants by volunteers and even unknown or out-of-date seeds were accepted and placed on a ‘lucky dip’ table. Local community organisation Down-2-Earth organised children’s activities, many of which were pea-themed to coincide with the Veg of the Week at the time. Talks were held on ‘Compost Teas for the Organic Grower’, ‘Growing Asian Vegetables in the UK’ and ‘Get the most from your Garden’. Local restaurant Tickton Grange lead a cookery demo of ‘Roots, Shoots, Seeds and Seasonings’ with free samples given out to spectators. The day was rounded off with local writers group ‘The Healing Nature Seeds’ reading out nature-related poems. Absolutely Cultured provided a team of City of Culture volunteers to help the event run smoothly and Timebank Hull & East Riding served hot drinks and delicious freshly made soups and snacks.
“Hull Seed Swap was one event in our year-long Veg Cities campaign to inspire everyone in Hull to grow, cook and eat more vegetables. Hull has a vibrant allotment culture and at this time of the year growers young and old are making plans and looking forward to the growing season. The seed swap was a great opportunity to not only exchange seeds, but also to swap tips and growing ideas as well. Growing your own produce can be very satisfying and the seed swap aims to encourage people to get involved in improving our food culture around growing fruit and vegetables, growing successfully at home, at allotments or community gardens all round the city.” Hull Veg Cities co-ordinator, John Pickles.
Sustain are encouraging more areas to launch Veg Cities campaigns, and get local businesses and organisations making veg pledges. Veg Cities is currently the feature campaign of Sustainable Food Cities, and is run in partnership with Peas Please.