Sharing the benefits of Care Farming in Bucks

In 2018, while supporting a young person at risk of exclusion from school, educator and researcher Joy O’Neill visited a care farm in the Home Counties in the hope that it might offer an alternative education placement for her student. Later, while learning more about the subject, she arranged visits to almost 50 care farms, city farms and social or therapeutic gardens across the South East of England. During discussions with farmers, founders or owners, they went to great lengths to tell her about their projects and programmes, how they had begun, and the benefits they provided for clients. This was the start of Joy’s journey into the world of Care Farming, which delved deeper into the variety of benefits it has to offer people of all ages and backgrounds. Joy’s Churchill Fellowship report has just been published and can be read here.

We have a great care farm in Buckinghamshire called Road Farm Countryways which is based in Great Missenden. They have facilities that mean their space is inclusive, tranquil, exciting and a real break from life outside the farm gates. Why not check them out, they are always keen to engage new groups and can cater for cooking classes, art workshops, education sessions or wildlife and nature tours.

“Care farming means the therapeutic use of farming practices. It’s sometimes called social farming. People attend care farms for different reasons. It could be for a health, social care, rehabilitation or specialist education programme. Care farms can look very different from each other and are as diverse as the people that they support. One thing they all have is common is providing a supervised, structured programme of farm-related activity for people with a defined need. Care is bespoke, person-centred and focused on the individual.”

Social Farms & Gardens website

Bucks Food Waste Trolley Dash

August saw the launch of the Food Waste Trolley Dash as the team started the county wide tour at Vale Harvest on the 7th August 2021 alongside Zero Carbon Haddenham. A brain-child of the Food and Climate Connection group, the trolley is a head turner with a difference. Not giving away food prizes or vouchers, the trolley symbolises the amount of money an average family of four could save across a year from reducing the food they waste. The WRAP figure stands at a bold £710!

When faced with the food waste home challenge, many of us claim we don’t waste much at all. However, every scrapping into the bin adds up, as so does the cost to the climate crisis. Not just the food that’s discarded, but also all the energy that has gone into creating it, farming, transport, production, and packaging are just a few of the costs.

Our Bucks FP campaign supported by Feedback EAT IT, COMPOST IT, CADDY IT also made its debut with the street team handing out caddy stickers as a reminder in the kitchen; as well as the popular Food SOS recipe cards designed to help us to use up those commonly wasted items like potatoes, eggs and bread!

It was great to get out and have inspiring conversations about ways to reduce waste in the home, from leftover soups to creative sauces and composting. The trolley will be visiting High Wycombe Town Centre Market 13th, Hazlemere 21st, Parklife Aylesbury 28th August and Marlow 4th Sept finishing off in Wendover on the 18th September, so why not pop along and check it out.

Are you a Food Citizen?

Food Citizenship is the action of thinking about and being proactive about food, both as individuals and collectively as a nation. Working together with campaigners and influencers, to improve the food system as awareness grows about the impact our dietary choices have on the ecological climate crisis. 

Food Citizenship provides a lens to explore the role that individuals and communities can play in addressing social, environmental and political challenges within the food system. Willing people to change their behaviour from simply being a ‘consumer’ basing their choices on convenience and price alone; dictated to by large businesses and governments. To become food citizens who makes ethical and informed decisions, improving their relationship with food.  

What makes a good food citizen? As with standard citizenship, Food Citizenship is about informed decision-making, active participation and taking a collective approach to solutions. So the first step to being a good Food Citizen is about building on existing knowledge and educating ourselves through reading articles and reports, watching documentaries, talking to peers and learning about where your food comes from and who produces it. Speaking to people that work in food is always helpful too – be it greengrocers, farmers, food campaigners, community cooks or chefs. Many of us have only a very vague sense of where our food comes from or how it was produced, including the reality of farming in the UK and overseas. For example the UK produces a mere of the 18% of the fruit they eat and only 55% of their fresh vegetables! 

And after learning about the issues, it’s by being proactive with your own behaviours, then looking for ways to support others within your community that Food Citizenship really comes to life. This could be by setting up food projects in collaboration with local people, finding ways to support a community fridge scheme to share surplus food or addressing a particular need such as the emergency food distribution hubs we saw spring up during the Covid pandemic. It could also be about campaigning to see change made in how the food sector is regulated or calling on a particular business to change its ways.  

With food waste being a large contributor to the greenhouse gases creating the climate crisis, we all have the power to be part of positive change!

GLUT busting recipes – A Food Citizens Cookbook

A Food Citizen’s Cookbook focuses on fruit and vegetable gluts common to Buckinghamshire.

From gooseberries to potatoes, cabbage to rhubarb; the recipes in this cookbook give you the chance to help prevent tonnes of food waste entering landfill.

Food waste is a problem from farm to fork. As food citizens we need to address food waste in our homes but also be mindful of waste that occurs beyond household bins and work towards a better food system.

“Food that could have been eaten but gets thrown away (5.0 million tonnes) is worth around £15 billion. This is almost £70 per month for the average family with children. The carbon associated with this food waste is equivalent to that generated by one in four cars on UK roads.”

On a regional level there is potential to connect low levels of production surplus from allotments and farms to support good causes and reduce waste. Redistribution of surplus food from major supermarkets and distributors is mainly through SOFEA, the charity distributing food for FareShare in the Thames Valley.

There are nine foods that were consistently surplus in large quantities in Buckinghamshire. These were: 

  • Bananas
  • Fruit juice, chilled
  • Potatoes
  • Yoghurt, flavoured
  • Carrots
  • Bread
  • Milk (cow’s)
  • Cake products
  • Oranges

Feedback has been running a project called Growing Food Citizens. We work with local people and groups to build awareness of the environmental impacts of what we eat and what we waste. Together we explore how we can be active participants in our food system by becoming food citizens, shaping what we eat and where it comes from for our health and our planet. 

We were delighted to be working with Empower to Cook on this project to help more people learn food skills to avoid waste and have healthier diets. In this cookbook we are exploring the foods that most often go to waste in Buckinghamshire during the different months of the year, providing recipes to help experiment with new and delicious meals to address this waste.

Why not try out a few recipes at: http://tankdevelop.co.uk/bucks-gluts/