Vikings Veg, Little Vikings Children’s Centre, Watchet, West Somerset
Their Story: Vikings Veg is a Food Cooperative based at the Little Vikings Children's Centre in Watchet, West Somerset providing about 25 boxes of fruit and veg each week to the families and the local community. Following a successful funding application they were been allocated part of the Knights Templar School wildlife area to turn into a community allotment with a pollytunnel being erected during the summer of 2011.
Parents had said they were struggling to make ends meet. So a first initiative was the development of a food co-op where parents using the Children’s Centre pooled their purchasing power to buy directly in bulk from a local producer to achieve economies of scale on local, seasonal produce. This led on to the growing project which was more about parents’ aspirations to take more control of their situation and to boost their confidence to do so.
This project seeks to help parents at the Children’s Centre to tackle food poverty via two projects – a food co-operative and a growing space. Food poverty is a result of where those on fixed low incomes are increasingly stretched to accommodate the impacts of bigger picture issues like rising food (and energy) prices.
Support worker Tracy Bland responded to parents’ interest in learning to grow some of their own food by negotiating access to land in the grounds of Knights Templar School, adjacent to the Children’s Centre.
Tracey liaised with the School with regard to accessing or renting part of their wildlife area to turn it into an allotments, which they agreed to do free of charge because of the aferschool club running there. To erect the polytunnel they had 12 volunteers - working parents who gave up their Saturdays’ for a month to get it up. The projects timescale was for the allotment to be up and running efficiently within two years.
Key lessons learned
This project again had the committed leadership of Tracy the support worker as well as her volunteers. It also highlights the benefits of collaborating and working together to get more value for money but also the benefits of increased self sufficiency and self esteem gained through working together to successfully sow seeds and harvest your own produce plus the social value for older people and children being involved in growing alongside parents.
Support from Somerset Community Food
Vikings Veg were supported with a grant to support with the purchase of tools and soil. They also accessed some Get Set Grow training from Somerset Community Food.
Challenges: More volunteers are needed.
Plans for the future:
How to get involved: More volunteers are always welcome, please contact Tracy Bland.
Public Contact: TBland (at) educ.somerset (dot) gov (dot) uk