Hackney community food project scoops BBC award

Box Scheme Pic: Growing Communities

Local social enterprise Growing Communities has won the Best Big Food Idea prize at the BBC Food and Farming Awards.

The Hackney-based initiative beat Sainsbury’s and the Cornish Food Market to scoop the award during a ceremony on November 29 at Birmingham’s NEC arena.

Attended by a host of food experts including Raymond Blanc, Paul Hollywood, Angela Hartnett and Adam Henson, yesterday’s awards celebrated the best of British cuisine, by rewarding companies who encourage sustainable food production.

Growing Communities was set up over 18 years ago to increase the production of local and urban food through a number of programmes across the borough of Hackney.

Julie Brown, director of Growing Communities, said of the result: “It’s fantastic that the judges of the Food and Farming Awards have recognised how Growing Communities’ model of community-led trade can help build a food system that is fairer, more resilient and less dependent on fossil fuels.”

Richenda Wilson, Growing Communities’ marketing assistant believes the award will help them to encourage other communities across the United Kingdom to use a similar model.

“We have a scheme called the start up programme which enables and mentors other groups round the country to set up box schemes. We give them training, financial models and business plans.”

Jenny Slaughter, a member of Burnley Cropshare said the scheme had been “invaluable in giving us the confidence to launch our own local veg box scheme. By having a tried and tested model to follow, we have saved time and effort in reinventing the wheel and have avoided many pitfalls.”

Spurred by the desire to change the “currently damaging food system based on large scale supermarkets”, Wilson hopes Growing Communities will continue to build on its successes.

“We do research with our members and find that over half of the people on the box scheme have changed their cooking and shopping habits and are eating more organic and fresh food.”

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