INDUSTRIAL MASS FOOD PRODUCTION DAMAGES THE ENVIRONMENT AND OUR HEALTH.
WEN WORKS AS PART OF THE GLOBAL FOOD SOVEREIGNTY MOVEMENT TO ENCOURAGE SMALL-SCALE LOCAL FOOD GROWING right HERE IN LONDON.
SUSTAINABLE FOOD - the issue
Mass food production is fuel intensive, it ruins the livelihoods of independent farmers around the world, decimates the soil and natural environment, reduces seed variety, and poisons workers and consumers, both animal and human, with pesticides and insecticides. It contributes to climate change, and as climate change worsens, food security will become less and less certain.
It's time for a shift in the way we produce food.
Women's Environmental Network has championed community food growing projects in London's poorest neighbourhoods for over 15 years. Not only does local food growing offer a more sustainable and often cheaper source of food, the activity itself brings people together in a shared attempt to reconnect with nature in an urban environment. Urban food growing can enhance people's wellbeing and build a sense of community among people from different cultural backgrounds.
Our food projects (see below) take local action that has global consequences, working on the ground and with the ground to empower individuals and communities to join the food sovereignty revolution, taking better care of their own health and that of the planet.
Find out about our work:
GROWING HEALTH IN HOUSING
GARDENS FOR LIFE
SPICE IT UP!
WEN has years of experience in successfully establishing and supporting community food growing projects, working in partnership with registered social landlords to provide sustainable spaces that improve health and wellbeing, bring diverse communities together and rejuvenate unloved urban spaces. Growing Health in Housing is a service that provides different levels of support for housing associations and other social landlords in community food growing projects. We can help you start from scratch and build a new garden, support an existing food growing group, or provide bespoke training for both residents and housing association staff. We can also provide specialist support to women's hostels and refuges who are interested in setting up therapeutic gardens. Read the Growing Health in Housing brochure, or contact Maddy@wen.org.uk, our Local Food Project Coordinator, for more information.
In just 15 months, WEN built 15 community food growing gardens in housing estates throughout Tower Hamlets, providing residents with the space, the knowledge and the support to grow their own food. Gardens for Life has been a resounding success, with users of the community gardens reporting better mental and physical health since they started growing their own food. The gardens have also helped to reduce the widespread problem of social isolation among residents of Tower Hamlets housing estates, particularly those of South Asian origin for whom English is not a first language. Gardens for Life gave way to our Growing Health in Housing project (see below), a service designed to help housing associations and social landlords set up successful community food growing gardens. Read the final report here.
Spice It Up! is a free training course in organic food growing for women in East London. Divided into two levels, Spice it Up! provides peer to peer learning in a safe and supportive environment, allowing women to make new friends and build more cohesive communities. This training is an invaluable opportunity for women to improve their English language skills and combat social exclusion. Above all, Spice It Up! promotes all-round health, encouraging active lifestyles and giving access to affordable healthy food, whilst promoting greater awareness of the environment and of the importance of sustainable food production. Over the past 4 years, Spice It Up! has reached over 4,000 women in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest. For more information, contact Kate, our Local Food Project Coordinator. In 2015, we conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the Spice it Up! project. You can read this report here.
our POLICY WORK
lbTH LOCAL PLAN - WEN's response to consultation
In January 2016, WEN responded to London Borough Tower Hamlets' consultation on the new Local Plan. In our letter we highlight our main areas of concern - especially the removal of a commitment to community gardens and urban agriculture. We then addressed four sections of the Plan which we perceived as being relevant to community food growing in the borough: Health, Leisure and Social Facilities; Open Space and Green Grid; Waste Management and Biodiversity.