Transition West Berks – Let’s Grow Food
Report by Ricky Josey
Tuesday 16th Sept Newbury Town Hall
The evening was organised by the Transition West Berks organisation that are spearheading the movement towards local food production in West Berks. www.transitionwestberks.org
The evening started with a presentation by Ruth Allen (Ruth is advisor and assessor for the Local Food Fund that is funded by the Big Lottery) on the project SPAN that coordinated 10 projects across the country that set up local food production groups, be it allotment groups, adoption of local council land to turn them into green spaces, through to food co-ops with commercial enterprises. The project was funded by Defra. www.localfoodgrants.org
The aim of these projects was to increase home food production, take costs out of the family budget, reduce your food carbon footprint and reconnect food production to the next generation while greening the neighbourhood. Home food production can mean anything from pots on the doorstep, to your back garden, to a community garden on spare land or allotments new or old.
The rest of the first half of the evening was open to questions for groups already planning projects and for networking between the groups present. There are groups in Thatcham, Mortimer West End, Newbury, Hungerford and Greenham all working on projects within West Berks, networking with these groups to transfer ideas and skills will benefit the groups and spark new ideas across the county.
After a short break there was a presentation on Transition Towns and specifically what has been started in Newbury. This included details on a new project at Greenham to create a new community garden, it’s in the planning stage at the moment but some of the ideas they have were to arrange for native fruit trees/shrubs to be planted by the council for new housing developments rather than ornamental shrubs and they are also in negotiation with a local garden centre to arrange starter packs of fruit tress, shrubs and groundcover fruit plants for households to purchase at discounted rates.
There was a lot more information available at the end of the meeting, including an home audit sheet on household light bulbs from the Thatcham vision environment team (TVET), showing just one example of what environment groups in the area are looking at.
The meetings are a good source of contacts and should projects like this be launched in Theale then this would be one of the first points of contact I would recommend.
If you would like to be involved in a project similar to these or know more about what’s happening in Theale then email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org as the Theale Environment is under construction and we need your input.