The GrowCookShare project was launched in October 2014 with the generous support of a grant from Leicestershire County Council Innovation Fund. Without this funding the project would have never started.
What the project has achieved after 22 months
- a vibrant monthly lunch club held at the Castle Donington Parish Hall that is regularly providing a 4 course meal for up to 50 people
- a second monthly lunch club held at the Wakefield Court sheltered and retirement complex – bringing together residents to socialise and eat well
- our community allotments are giving us some great produce in their second year
- lots of other growing spaces in the local community are being supported including 75 trugs with community groups
- a drop-box at the allotment where other growers can donate their spare produce to us
- supported the ‘Here We Grow’ project at Surestart, Castle Donington
- Winter Warmer Soup – was available in the volunteer centre during the winter months as either an eat-in or a take-away service
- held events in and around the local area to promote the project
What our funding application said we wanted to do…
Our experience tells us that people of all ages need people in their lives to thrive and live happy lives. It is even more important when a person gets older.
Our GrowCookShare project will meet those needs: we aim to bring people together to grow food in our garden, their garden and even in other people’s gardens. The skills and knowledge used in growing seasonal food are invaluable – think of the allotment holders busy all year around, being filled with purpose, always thinking ahead. Then add to this the excellent home cooks, with all the tips to make delicious jams, pickles and chutneys, baking cakes and breads, and using seasonal fruit and vegetables in healthy meals. We know there are lots of people out in the community that are enjoying this lifestyle: they grow, cook and share.
Then imagine these same people getting older, frailer – maybe they have a fall or period of ill health, an operation, onset of mental or physical problems, a separation or bereavement – the list could go on and on!
The joys of growing your own seasonal fruit and vegetables can stop if you are unable to do the heavier work required each season, if you can’t get to collect your compost and plants, if you become ill or are required to change your routines because you or someone else is ill. You might be needed as a caregiver.
The pleasure of taking fresh seasonal produce and making delicious homemade food can stop if there is nobody there to share it with, no one to say thank you and give you a smile. This can happen for many reasons and it is often losing a partner to bereavement or into permanent care.
Men and women in facing these types of lifestyle changes are vulnerable to the effects of becoming isolated and lonely, they can lack social interaction, see less of friends and become less concerned about their own wellbeing. What they eat can be less nutritious and this can affect resistance to infection, and increase pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Some people may lose access to transport because they have to surrender a driving licence or the car is sold; maybe they relied on a partner to drive them. Add in the reluctance of many people to ask for help or the belief that they will be a bother, and you will see there are some real and perceived barriers to people leading thriving and happy lives.
Our project is designed to bring together these people – the growers and cooks, volunteers with time and energy, providing places for people to meet up and have a chat, to share time as well as growing produce, to share a meal that is prepared together and do the dishes afterwards, Door-to-door transport will be included for those that need it and take home portions for those that aren’t able to join in or for later in the day.
The future of GrowCookShare
We would like to develop and grow the service to the community but as always we need more volunteers to tend the allotments, cook and serve the meals and of course clear up afterwards. It is a great project to be involved in so give us a call on 01332 850526