Denny (Left), Rachael (Centre), Dean (Right)

The Grow to Give scheme at the Knapmill Allotment has been running for around a year. Denise Senner, Secretary for the Lewisham Self-Managed Allotment Association, on the left in the picture adjacent, has been on the site for 10 years. The Grow to Give scheme began at a festival in Deptford last summer. Denny, who was volunteering at the festival, came across a stall promoting Lewisham Local, Rushey Green Time Bank and FoodCycle Lewisham. Denny decided to get involved with FoodCycle by creating the Grow to Give scheme. In her role as Secretary, Denny was able to promote the scheme to other allotments in the borough to help let the scheme grow. Two other allotment holders, Rachael and Dean (in the photograph below), are also a part of the Grow to Give Scheme.

FoodCycle Lewisham supports people who are hungry and lonely by serving tasty lunches and dinners every single day in towns and cities across the country. The Grow to Give scheme was set up to help people in the local community, by raising awareness of self-managed allotments, and using the surplus from these allotments to donate to FoodCycle for those in food poverty.

Dean argues, “there is so much food going wasted [so it’s important that we] produce our food and still give food to others”. The scheme provides food that can be grown outside of what is provided by the main markets, relatively cheaply, which are fresh, healthy, and can provide food for those in need in the local community. No matter what amount of space you have, you can grow your own food. Rachael argues that “many types of food can be planted in a pot, that can keep you going all summer”.

There is a sense of tranquility at the allotment site, where the clean air, and fresh food separates you from the usual stresses that the city usually provides. Therefore, the scheme allows for a mutually beneficial relationship where for the individual by promoting self-provision, and self-improvement. While at the community level, this scheme is about improving the environment by reducing waste and providing for those who are deprived in the local community.

In addition to Knapmill Allotment, there is a community green garden in Lee, Lewisham. This is a brand-new community garden project based in Lee, Lewisham, sponsored by St Margaret’s Church. It is open to all local residents, whether church goers or not, and will be supported by Denny, a fully qualified gardener. They are hoping to get a vegetable, herb and flower gardens established this year with the help and ongoing support of those who volunteer. Denny explains that “volunteers will be fully supported, be able to benefit from growing organic produce, and be part of a scheme to donate fresh food to those in our community who are in food poverty”.

Could you volunteer?

Volunteers are needed to help with clearance and building beds initially. Regular maintenance and succession planting as well as watering, will also be needed. There will be jobs for all, whatever someone is able to do will be appreciated, and any donations of tools and materials are also very welcome.

The first session is on Saturday 22nd February and the planting will start in the spring! Anyone interested please contact Karlene at community@stmargaretslee.org.uk.

If you would like to volunteer with FoodCycle Lewisham please contact lewisham@foodcycle.org.uk

Find out more

To find out about local allotments and where to get your own please visit the Lewisham Council Allotment Website at: https://lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/environment/allotments/apply-for-an-allotment.

In addition, if you know anyone with an allotment you can always encourage them to get involved too! If you have your own allotment but wish to get involved with the Grow to Give scheme, please contact Peter Maynard, the Green-Scene Allotments Officer at the Lewisham Self-Managed Allotment Association.

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