Real Food Hollingdean
The starting point for this project came from an inner melting pot of observations about the poor in our society and what I was noticing about my local Hollingdean estate. The Guardian Magazine (4 June 2011) ran an article about children living in poverty on various council estates in the UK, and I was shocked to read that as many as one in three under-16′s are living on less that 60% of the average household income. The article had some hard hitting interviews with kids living in poverty, including eight year old Courtney:
“About this credit crunchy thing,” Courtney says. “It’s stopped all the money and we’ve got no food….and we got no cereal, nowt, and I could go, like, another week with no food, but I’ll at least have to have a biscuit or something”…“I feel cross” Courtney says, returning to their empty cupboard. “I could just stamp my feet and click my fingers and it’ll be back to normal”…” We’re a poor family” Courtney says. “We’re different.”
Times are hard. Fuel poverty is a real problem, and this is only set to increase as fuel costs are about to increase by 20% (12 June 2011). I was listening to Radio 4 last night about this issue, and many families like Courtney’s are unable to pay fuel bills by direct debit as they just don’t have the funds going through their accounts to cover this. They are stuck on the highest tariffs and have to pay in advance via coin meters, even for the TV! It is this discrimination that is squeezing the food budget in very real terms: children go hungry.
I was pondering on how awful it is that children should go hungry in a developed country like the UK, and what I could do to help address food poverty. It seems crazy that people, old and young, can’t afford to buy good food when good food really does grow on trees! I had noticed in the years that I’d been living on the edge of the Hollingdean Estate that many of the Council houses have under-used front gardens, and I had frequently day-dreamed about what could be grown in those gardens should the opportunity arise. Many of the gardens are almost as big as my entire garden at home and are set back from the road a little, so in many cases there is adequate growing space. So the idea started to germinate for this project: I could help address food poverty on the Estate by helping people grow fruit and vegetables on their own doorsteps.
Real Food Hollingdean is a not for profit organisation partnered with Brighton Permaculture Trust, with the aim of starting small and slow and expanding over time. In phase 1, the aim is to tackle just one front garden so that it becomes the first ‘Real Food Garden’, a show garden for the project, in which we will run gardening activities for all ages, passing on the skills to other residents of Hollingdean. It will showcase permaculture design and growing techniques, so that it demonstrates how it is possible to gain multiple yields from a limited space. In phase 2, we hope to be able to create many ‘Real Food gardens’ throughout the estate so that as many people as possible can have access to affordable healthy fresh food, and the skills to grow their own too.
If you are a resident of Hollingdean (in Brighton) or if you are just interested in finding out more about the project, then do join our Facebook group here.
The project has now completed phase 1 and Brighton Permaculture Trust has taken on the management of phase 2.
To follow the progress of this project, please click here to take a look at our news page.