Communities Get Growing Across Monmouthshire

Monmouthshire Food Partnership (MFP) has given ten community-led projects small grants of £200 each to start or enhance food-growing activities. The scheme was inspired by the Soil Association’s long-running Food For Life Get Togethers programme, in particular Plant & Share month: ‘a campaign to get the nation growing and sharing produce with their community, school, family or friends’.

In 2023 Plant & Share ran from 22 April to 20 May, and MFP members worked hard to open applications in time. This was the first time we had run a grants scheme, so we had a lot to learn, but the experience and commitment of MFP’s members really shone through. Big shout out to Andrea, especially, for all her help.

Our aim was to give Monmouthshire communities an opportunity to take the lead, do something together, and experience the joy of growing food. We looked for projects that:

  • Are focussed on food growing
  • Have potential to be long term
  • Are community led
  • Bring people or organisations together in collaboration
  • Are climate and nature friendly
  • Encourage a positive attitude to diversity.

The application form was posted online and published via our networks and social media channels. We now realise that we could have planned publicity more thoroughly (lesson learnt for next time), but we were still really pleased with the response and the diversity of the groups who applied. Ten got through our assessment process, among them schools, local hubs, community groups, and groups of workplace colleagues.

The grants have now been awarded, and the projects are underway. New and established groups across Monmouthshire are planting fruit trees and bushes, edible hedges, and vegetable patches, holding events, and purchasing polytunnels, nest boxes, compost bins, and tools. We will update you on how they get on in a future article.

Several people mentioned to us that they would appreciate training and guidance on how to grow vegetables more sustainably. MFP are lucky to be able to help with this and we are currently exploring options to make sure everyone gets the most out of their grant. If possible, we will open the opportunity to others as well, so look out for updates.

Round 2 of our community growing small grants scheme will open in early 2023, with the same criteria.