Garden Organic brings together alliance to address food poverty in Southwark
Garden Organic recently hosted the third meeting of the Southwark Food Power Alliance as part of the charity’s London Food Poverty – Southwark project, helping to fight food insecurity in the London Borough of Southwark.
The Southwark Food Power Alliance (SFPA) was formed in August 2017 with Garden Organic bringing together partners interested in addressing food security issues in the borough.
The SFPA will provide a co-ordinated approach to instigating change within the borough. By sharing knowledge and investigating best practice from other areas it aims to influence policy and collaborate with decision-makers to provide long-term and sustainable solutions to the food security issues in Southwark.
There are now 28 partners within the Alliance, with more coming on board all the time. Current partners include Southwark Council, Central Southwark Community Hub, PECAN Foodbank, Peckham Foodcycle, and Edible Rotherhithe.
During the meeting, held on 1st February 2018, partners explored the root causes of food poverty within Southwark as well as local existing offers of support, upcoming projects for residents and the aims of the SFPA moving forward. One of the most ambitious of the projects discussed was the long term aim to eradicate the requirement of foodbanks within the borough whilst still supporting residents by keeping offers of community cafés and provisions such as foodcycle meals. These alternative approaches help people feel part of their community, encouraging them to engage with others who live locally and enjoy a healthy fresh meal made with waste food or locally produced zero miles food.
Debbie Mitchener, Project Coordinator for Garden Organic’s London Food Poverty – Southwark project was instrumental in pulling together the Alliance and chaired the first meeting. "Seeing this number of influential organisations committed to helping Southwark residents was truly inspirational.” Commented Debbie.
We know there are some simple steps we can take to improve access to fresh, healthy food and with the Alliance driving this forward I’m confident we will instigate change for the better.
The Southwark Food Power Alliance was originally established as part of Garden Organic’s London Food Poverty – Southwark project. The initiative supports residents on low incomes in one of London’s most densely populated and ethnically diverse boroughs. Its aim is to help those at risk of food poverty combat the issues arising from an unhealthy diet and reliance on foodbanks by giving residents opportunities to learn how to grow and prepare simple organic food at home or within a community setting.
Garden Organic’s trained volunteer Master Gardeners and Food Buddies provide all the necessary resources and an abundance of enthusiasm to teach food growing and cooking/preparation techniques relevant to the challenges of living within this urban setting.
As part of the London Food Poverty – Southwark project, the team ran a series of six free events through November and December including The £10 Garden, demonstrating how to build a garden to be proud of on a tight budget; Vertical Veg, showcasing approaches to make the best use of small spaces; and a Composting Workshop, exploring making compost and fertiliser even with no outdoor space. The workshops proved very popular and successful in addressing some of the common misconceptions around the space, time and money required to grow organic food. These workshops will be run again in 2018 in the Walworth area of Southwark, details will soon be published at www.gardenorganic.org.uk/local-events.
The next meeting of the Southwark Food Poverty Alliance will take place in May. Organisations interested in getting involved should contact Debbie Mitchener at email@example.com