Participants have been learning how to grow their own food whilst also supporting their local food bank, and are digging in as part of the ‘Larne Fresh Food Hub’ project at Dixon Park.
A partnership project between Larne Food Bank and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, this programme is supported the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
Joan Erwin from Larne Food Bank said: “The Food Bank has been open since 2013 and 12,134 tonnes of food was donated last year.
“We can provide nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food, however, it is mostly tinned and dry goods. It is anticipated the Fresh Food Hub will give people the chance to grow and harvest fresh food, which can be used for cooking.”
The Dixon Park Residents Association have very kindly allowed the group to make use of the polytunnel on site, and participants will meet on site over 26 hours and learn how to grow a variety of vegetables including tomatoes, beetroot, salads and beans.
During the first session participants learnt how to plant up from seed, bulb and plug. The GYO sessions are facilitated by Out There Services.
Participants also enjoyed a slow cooker demonstration, seeing how to make nutritious and tasty meals from low cost ingredients, as part of Council’s ‘Slow Energy Efficient’ initiative.
Staff from across the Council departments are supporting the programme as part of the Community Plan. Community Planning is about the public, private and voluntary organisations in the Borough working together, with communities, to plan and deliver better services which make a real difference to people’s lives.
Specifically, this is about achieving long term objectives for improving the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the area. Larne Fresh Food Hub is certainly a great example of this.
It is envisaged the hub will act as a pilot scheme, and participants can bring skills and enthusiasm back to their own local areas and re-create similar GYO initiatives.
The next few meetings will occur on Wednesday 17 April and Wednesday 1 May, however, spaces are limited so interest must be registered.
If you are interested in getting involved in Larne Fresh Food Hub, or have another idea for community growing in your area, please register your interest via firstname.lastname@example.org