Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is launching a project called Wiltshire and Swindon Food Champions, designed to help people learn about, grow and access local food while encouraging them to lead healthier lifestyles.
“We will be teaching horticultural skills to residents of disadvantaged communities and will be setting up 12 community growing sites and 20 orchards where they can grow their own fruit and veg,” says Gary Lamont, the Trust’s Food Champions Project Leader.
The Trust is working with Westlea, Sanctuary Shaftesbury, Sarsen, Sovereign and Swindon Borough Council Housing Associations who are providing access to their land.
“We are also asking anybody interested in local food to become a Food Champion and work with these communities to offer advice and support. You don’t need any experience of food growing to become a Food Champion as we will provide you with all the necessary resources, skills and information you need to help support your local community,” says Gary.
The project has identified there is a need for collaboration between all parties interested in local food. Therefore it is setting up a Local Food Network to help deliver this.
“It is clear that many people are already taking steps to tackle local food issues but with varying rates of success. One of the main benefits of a Local Food Network would be to share what works, what doesn’t, and other ideas,” says Gary.
The Local Food Networks are being launched on Thursday 19 January in the north of the county at Oaksey village hall and on Friday 20 January in the south of the county at Langford Lakes Nature Reserve. Both events will run from 10am to 1pm.
The Trust is also asking the public to fill in a quick questionnaire giving their views on local food. The questionnaire will allow the project to find out opinions on local food, what people think local food means and what barriers there are to people accessing local food too. The questionnaire is available to view at http://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/green_living/wiltshire_wildlife_food+champions
“Locally-grown food has many benefits to health as food tends to be fresher and it encourages us to eat what is in season, which means eating food at its best,” says Gary.
“It can also bring communities together in shared tasks and support the local economy. It helps the environment by lowering ‘food miles’ so that less climate-changing emissions are released into the atmosphere and wildlife-friendly growing methods will boost biodiversity,” he adds.
“If you are interested in becoming a Food Champion please contact either myself or Sara Cundy on 01380 736080.”
The project is funded by NHS Wiltshire, Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Council and the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme as well as the housing associations.