Newcastle West End Food Bank Organic Garden
We paid a visit to the Newcastle West End Food Bank to have a look around their organic garden to see how they are making use of the land they have to help local people in need!
At the centre on Benwell Lane in Newcastle there was a plot of land behind the centre which was largely unused so the team had the wonderful idea to use this land to grow food. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays the centre serves hot food to those in need made from donations of food from local businesses. When people use a food bank they are given a mix of non perishable food which they can take away with them, however many food banks want to make use of donations from local businesses, shops and restaurants who have fresh food they can donate.
Being able to grow food at the food bank is a massive boost and helps provide healthy organic food. The garden was a real community effort with help from business and local volunteers. The garden was funded by The Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland as well as three Newcastle City Council wards. This was along with a substantial donation of gardening tools, seeds and seedlings from Dobbies Garden Centre in nearby Ponteland. Individual gardeners and supporters kindly donated seeds, seedlings, gardening books and tools.
In May, everyone who was involved in the planning and construction of the garden were invited to the launch and work was started straight away to get things growing! The garden is now managed by volunteers, some of whom are the people who use the food bank.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the centre is serving fresh food, potatoes, beans, peas, cabbage, courgettes, broccoli and of course sprouts are taken directly from the garden and used to prepare meals along with the generous donations from the community and local businesses. This is in addition to the regular service the food bank offers with the food parcels and lets people in need sit down and have a nice freshly prepared hot meal. It’s not just a source of food however, the garden is a social space where everyone is equal, where they share stories, and take collective pride in what is being created.
But that’s no the end of the story, plans are afoot for a glazed greenhouse to extend the growing season so even more people can be helped. If you’d like to help, either to volunteer or donate please visit the Newcastle West End Food Bank website to find out how.