Growing Communities Dagenham Starter Farm

On Wednesday 3rd April BBC Radio 4 shone a light on the incredible work going on in Dagenham being led by the Growing Communities organisation. The goal of the organisation is to transform food and farming through community-led trade and volunteering. The initial ‘Patchwork Farm’ was set up in Hackney and following its great success they have expanded the project into Dagenham. This week see’s the ‘Starter Farm’ celebrate its first birthday.

You can listen to the BBC Radio 4 episode of Costing the Earth here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rl8n4

The project is currently funded by the Local Food Fund which is part of the Big Lottery, this funding is due to last until 2014 when it is hoped that the farm will become self-sufficient from sales of organic produce.

There is currently a regular team of volunteers that help out on the Growing Communities Starter Farm in Dagenham, which is situated on Rainham Road North. However there is always room for more enthusiastic members of the community to come along and get stuck in.

If you would like to learn more about the work of Growing Communities and are interested in volunteering at the Starter Farm in Dagenham then follow this link: http://www.growingcommunities.org/food-growing/starter-farm/

As well as calling for volunteers the project also employs a full-time grower and accommodates for three paid apprenticeships, training them in food growing.

The Starter Farm has also developed educational links with students from Eastbrook School and Barking and Dagenham College making weekly visits to the site to learn about food growing and to contribute to the project as a whole.

Starter Farm co-ordinator Kerry Rankine said:We hope that the Dagenham Starter Farm will show the potential for growing - and selling - significant amounts of produce from farms on the outskirts of London and other cities and that the "grown in Dagenham" slogan will become one local people can be proud of!”

Earlier in the year local MP Jon Cruddas visited the site along with the Barking and Dagenham Mayor Anthony Ramsey and Cllr Jeanne Alexander.

Jon commented: “It is a great initiative and one that I hope the local community will get behind. The thought that in a time when food banks are prevalent across Dagenham and Rainham, we could be arming people with the skills, and space they need to provide for themselves paints a very encouraging picture for the future.”