Volunteers’ Week, which ran from 1 – 7 June, thanks all those that freely give their time to their community. We celebrated our staff, students and alumni for their work as keyworkers and volunteers during this pandemic. Growhampton in particular has made a significant contribution.
Growhampton is a sustainability initiative which aims to engage students and staff with food-growing, nutrition and wellbeing. Typically this takes place through regular volunteering in addition to social events at the Hive Café, the project’s hub. With the university campus closed the projects focus has shifted.
Since its inception, Growhampton has supported the Roehampton community through initiatives such as Project Grow, a gardening exchange between students and the elderly, and Soil in the City, which offers local young people a space to participate in nature and sustainability focused activities.
Regenerate, a local charity offering vocational skills, volunteering and employment opportunities has been an important vehicle for Growhampton to support people locally and boosting their wellbeing, leadership and self-development.
More recently, in response to the challenges our community are facing due to COVID-19, Regenerate partnered with Heathmere Primary School and Rackets Cubed to set up a weekly community box scheme. The Roehampton Community Box is distributed to more than 200 local families in Roehampton and Putney and the fresh produce available on campus makes a real difference.
Growhampton specialises in producing high-yielding leafy greens in the form of salad bags and cooking greens. They also focus on seasonal eating, and so far have supplied the community box with radishes, broad beans, kale, coriander, pak choi, turnips and much more. They are also doing a harvest twice per week for the Community Box.
The feedback from people receiving the box has been exceedingly positive. Much of what they receive in the emergency food box is tinned, non-perishable or vacuumed, so receiving fresh ingredients is a welcome addition to their household. Since early April Growhampton have supplied more than 45kg of campus grown produce to the community.
Some students still living on campus have independently helped the project by watering the crops during the prolonged spell of hot weather. This has given them the opportunity to support a community initiative and develop leadership skills. Likewise Growhampton have offered training to Hassan Ali from Regenerate, who is directly involved in the coordination of the boxes and have helped him to develop his knowledge in how to create urban field-to-fork journeys.
Growhampton expect the quantity and variety of produce to increase considerably in the coming future as the summer season gathers pace. This will include a wider range of more commercially expensive items such as tomatoes, chilis, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, onions, garlic and herbs. They are even growing the first ever Roehampton melons!
This week they will be distributing plants, herbs and flowers which they’ve been sowing in pots. This will allow people in the community to grow on their windowsills and nurture something themselves.
We are overwhelmingly proud of Growhampton’s hard work and dedication to the community during this difficult time and we’re certain that the local families will share our gratitude.