By Jamie Douglas, CFINE Community Growing Volunteer
Keep Growing Aberdeen’s 2021 ‘Grow Share Eat!’ campaign successfully concluded with the launch of an exciting free recipe book. Aimed at improving the diet of local residents, the recipe book provides a selection of cheap, healthy, easy-to-cook recipes ranging from traditional Shepherd’s Pie to vegetarian curry.
Keep Growing Aberdeen (KGA) began as a partnership approach to community food growing between CFINE, ACHSCP, ACC and One Seed Forward. The initiative started during lockdown of 2020 with the aim to improve mental health and wellbeing, improve access to healthy food and improve social connections for people within the community, with a huge focus on priority neighbourhoods. The 2021 ‘Grow Share Eat!’ theme was in response to the feedback and findings from the previous project activities.
The launch of the recipe book complimented the core focus of ‘Grow Share Eat!’, which centred on distributing growing packs to 415 households throughout Aberdeen city. Participants were provided with growing materials, seeds for growing vegetables, as well as specialist advice directed towards supporting people to grow their own food.
Click here to read the recipe book! - Recipe Book
CFINE’s Community Growing Development Worker, Rebecca Dunn, explained that Grow Share Eat! not only encouraged residents to grow their own food, the project stimulated greater social interactions for those isolating as part of the pandemic. Rebecca said: “We launched this initiative because we realised that it provided people with several key benefits. Growing your own vegetables provides tangible nutritional benefits, improving physical heath. In the long-term, it has the potential to reduce weekly shopping bills – always a good thing! Our project evaluation demonstrated that Keep Growing Aberdeen brought positive mental health benefits because it encouraged neighbours who were isolating in the same building to share excess produce, stimulating interactions between them. This strengthened social relationships, reducing some of the negative impacts brought about through self-isolating such as loneliness.” Rebecca added that the 2021 project also established three new community gardens across the city. These areas were specifically designed to allow groups of people to come together to grow vegetables in a communal setting, giving people from different backgrounds the opportunity to form new relationships. The new community gardens were established in Northfield, Woodside and Seaton, and these gardens are continuing to attract new members.
The initiative spawned the development of cooking workshops, at which local food skills group, The Mixing Bowl Aberdeen, offered guidance on how best to use freshly grown produce. Due to constraints brought about by the pandemic, the ‘Grow Share Eat!’ cooking tutorials were screened live over zoom. However, under normal circumstances people interested in improving their cooking skills can attend tutorials in person at CFINE’s specially designed community kitchens. Rebecca explained: “Online cooking workshops showed people how to cook cheap, healthy, tasty meals with vegetables grown from the growing packs they received through the KGA project.” The workshops themselves generated significant interest in the project overall.
“On the back of the Keep Growing Aberdeen: Grow Share Eat! initiative, we decided to create a specific recipe book for distribution throughout the local community that gave suggestions for healthy, easy-to-cook meals.” Rebecca added: “The free recipe book, which is also available in a digitised format, has been distributed to local community centres, community organisations and community groups, to help make it readily accessible.”
The Keep Growing Aberdeen partnership would like to thank One Seed Forward who, after 2 years as a partner, has now left the KGA partnership due to other priority projects in 2022. We wish them well with future projects.
For further information concerning the recipe book or the Keep Growing Aberdeen: Grow Share Eat! initiative, including how to reserve copies of the recipe book for your local organisation, or to find out more information concerning community garden projects as a whole, please contact Rebecca: E: firstname.lastname@example.org Mob: 07588471390
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