Food security can’t be achieved on a ‘one size fits all’ basis. The beauty of community food projects is that they are typically ultra-local, run by people from the very communities they serve and quick to adapt and respond to the particular needs of people living close by. Volunteers are passionate about the work that they do, motivated by a desire to make a difference.
The Landport estate in Lewes is a fantastic example of this. Landport Residents Association and Landport Community Hub have collectively developed a joined up approach to community food provision, creating multiple opportunities for people to access healthy, affordable food right on their doorsteps.
The food bank, open every Monday, provides emergency food and support for residents who are really struggling, as well as making surplus food available to anyone. There’s also a weekly pay-as-you-feel community café which is open to everyone and a community fridge is in the works. The community garden is being redeveloped using a small grant from Lewes District Food Partnership and there are plans dementia and wellbeing groups.
Even the local nursery gets involved, using funding from LDFP to offer healthy fruit and veg snacks to their pre-schoolers. Claire Connell, the manager at Pippa’s Group nursery said, “We used the grant [from Lewes District Food Partnership] to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the children to experience and enjoy as part of a healthy snack. We used some of the money to buy strawberry plants. With the fruit that was produced we made strawberry jam with the children who took it home to share with their families. This was a hugely popular activity with the children and their families. We also introduced a wider range of fruit and vegetables then we would normally use. We did taste tests with the children and we made smoothies with natural yogurt too.”
From September 2022 the nursery will be using Landport Community Garden as one of their forest school bases, with the children taking responsibility for a small plot to grow some of their own veg, further embedding the links between these projects.
This community rooted, place based approach isn’t just about reacting in a crisis, but prioritises access to healthy and delicious food for all in a fair and equitable way. The inter-connectedness means that there is very little food waste and expertise can be shared – through initiatives such as the Landport Community Café recipe book. In August there was a free community BBQ on the green, with some of the food provided for free by the local corner shop as a way of thanking residents for their custom. Cooking on the grill while families relaxed together was Debbie Twitchen, chair of Landport Resident’s Association, who provided the rest of the food and prizes. “This is what we do”, she told us.