For a group of young residents in Enfield, getting their five-a-day just got easier. That’s because they’ve learned to plant and grow their own fruit and veg. And, as they’ve found out, healthy eating isn’t the only good thing to come from growing your own.
A project being run for residents at Enfield Young People’s Service in London, has taught youngsters aged 18-24 the value of home-grown food. Ten residents living in supported housing, run by Riverside Care and Support, have created their own edible gardens by growing carrots, cabbage, broccoli, leeks and herbs. They’ve even planted a cherry tree.
Sandra Thompson, Riverside’s Area Manager for Care and Support, explains how the project came about: “This all started when staff arranged a taster session with the Growing Revolution Project. They came along to teach us some basics on how to plant and grow different foods.
“This inspired residents and staff to set up their own food growing project. So we applied for funding and received £250 from The Church Housing Trust to buy tools and plants.
“We’ve got access to a choice of produce that’s free, healthy, organic and tasty.
“The residents have really taken this to their hearts. We’ve had some great feedback from them. In particular, they’ve enjoyed working outdoors as part of a team – supporting each other and celebrating the fruits of their labour.
“They’ve also appreciated the whole lifecycle of being able to plant something, watch it grow, then cook it and eat it. We’ve now got access to a choice of produce that’s free, healthy, organic and tasty.”
The project is a great example of how Riverside encourage better health and wellbeing in our communities.
Sandra continued: “As well as the healthy eating aspect, residents have enjoyed coming together and socialising in a setting like this. It’s given them the opportunity to talk about their hopes for the future in a natural, non-judgemental environment. The project has definitely brought people together and helped to forge new relationships.”
Thanks to the project’s success, plans are now being developed to roll out food growing projects elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in Enfield, there’s still more to come with healthy cooking classes planned for the autumn. Residents have also asked for similar projects, covering DIY and decorating.
Sandra added: “Some of our residents have been in long-term care or have been at risk of becoming homeless. Part of our service is to help them gain the skills they need to become as independent as possible when they leave us. So a DIY project would be a really good idea and it’s something we’re looking into.”
Riverside is the third largest provider of homelessness services in the country, and its Care and Support operation works with over 16,000 customers every year.
To find out more about our supported housing services visit www.riverside.org.uk/care-and-support/supported-living