2023 cooking and growing grants have now been allocated.
The Growing and Cooking Grants for community-led food projects was for applications between £500 and £5000 for activities that make healthier food more accessible for everyone.
The aim was to fund community cooking activities, e.g. cooking classes, community meals and education on healthy food as well as projects that forge community connections, for example:
- creating or developing a community garden, farm or orchard on unused local space
- school or nursery pupils raising seedlings and sharing them with a local care home
- cookery classes that build people’s confidence and skills to cook healthy meals on a budget
- building networks of community food projects to share ideas or produce
- developing local awareness of where our food comes from and the impact this has on the natural environment
- bringing people together to grow and eat as a community.
The fund is run in partnership with Somerset Community Foundation, Somerset Council Healthy Lifestyles Team and Somerset Community Food.
History of the fund:
The events of 2020 really highlighted the importance of community, the power of people, and the need for food security across our population. Whilst a number of community groups admirably stepped up to support their communities with emergency food supplies (among other forms of provision), there is a longer term need to reduce food insecurity and create stronger food sharing networks, so that emergency supplies are less relied upon in time to come.
Community food growing schemes can be a great way to do this, by providing people with a space to grow produce in a county with very long allotment waiting lists, and allowing people to learn the skills to start growing their own within a supportive group. They are also a good opportunity for isolated individuals to socialise with like-minded others and spend time outside, and gardening is a great way for anyone to get active. We understand that it can be challenging to run a community group, not least due to the costs, for both starting up and maintaining the site.
We also have information on other funding opportunities for community growing projects.
Project Showcase of Growing Grants (2021)
View a pdf booklet here, or read the report in accessible text below:
This booklet shares the success stories and developments of a range of growing projects who received a Growing Grant* from the Somerset Food Resilience Fund in 2021. Somerset is home to a diverse range of projects, including Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes, community allotments, gardens and orchards, as well as school gardens. There is a mix of well-established and emerging projects.
The Growing Grants became available during the Covid 19 Pandemic and Brexit - UK leaving the E.U. Both have created challenges for our food systems, access to healthy food and also revealed further food inequalities. This has brought a mixture of challenges and opportunities for projects.
Prominent themes include improving health and well-being for participants, enhancing the environment for local people and wildlife, as well as sustainable food growing for local communities and improved food resilience. Grant money provided infrastructure, staffing, tools and plants as well as improving community facilities (e.g. a polytunnel at Frome Field 2 Fork, a shed at Axbridge Community allotments and a pizza oven at Manor House Road Community garden).
Growing projects have so many benefits. They enhance the local area and develop a sense of a community (Westfield Community Garden and Transition Town Wellington). They also have a direct impact on the individuals who take part, for instance, supporting people to rebuild their lives after difficulties (Root Connections), improving well-being for older people (Cultivating Community) or giving people skills for their next steps and increasing confidence (Plotgate Community Farm).
Thank you to all contributors - the project workers and volunteers who shared their time, reflections and photographs to bring this booklet to life. We hope it will bring attention to our strong community growing network. Perhaps it will spark new food and growing projects for the future. This would be an important contribution to better health and community connections as well as essential for improving local food resilience.
Somerset Community Food, April 2022
*The 2021 Growing Grants were distributed by Somerset Community Foundation in partnership with Somerset County Council and Somerset Community Food.
We have mapped over 50 community growing projects across Somerset. Visit the map here. This booklet showcases 8 projects who received Growing Grants, click on the links below to find out more about each project and how they used their grant:
Info-graphic summary of the Growing Grants:
22 grants distributed.
A concentration of projects in the Mendip area.
12, 000 reported grant beneficiaries at time of writing.
62% state their site is accessible or partly accessible.
Project types: 1 cooking series, 1 CSA, 3 community allotment groups, 5 social / therapeutic horticulture projects, 8 community gardens, orchards and fields, 4 school and educational gardens.
Primary beneficiaries: Half of the projects benefited local residents. Other projects specifically targeted: women, children and young people, older people, people with disabilities, those with mental health issues and people facing homelessness.
Key project themes: building community and connections, increasing skills and confidence, improving well-being and metal health, protecting and improving the environment, developing garden infrastructure and resources and building local food resilience.
Credits: Produced by Somerset Community Food, April 2022, with support from Somerset Community Foundation and Somerset County Council.
Thank you to the following groups for their time and contributions: Axbridge Community Allotments, Frome Field 2 Fork, Manor House Road Community Garden, Plotgate Community Farm, Root Connections, Transition Town Wellington, The Walled Garden at Mells, Westfield Community Association as well as cover / images from Gem Hicks photography.
- ProjectsView a list of community food growing projects across Somerset - find out what is happening and how to get involved.
Click below to view our projects.
- MapPut your community food project on the Somerset map!
Find food growing projects across the county.
Click the link below to view our map.
- ResourcesClick below to see links and resources to help you start your own community food project