By Hannah Robbins and Anna Locke

Town Grown is a new project set up to support and stimulate food growing across the Hastings area. Its aim is to help anyone that wants to produce more fruit and veg locally, more successfully and more collaboratively, no matter the size or stage of their project. 

Town Grown is an offshoot of Transition Town Hastings (TTH), part of a global transition network of community-led projects that seek to tackle some of the largest environmental challenges that face the world today through grass-roots community action and initiatives. 

Town Grown at St Leonards Market

Food shortages and soaring prices, the combined impact of Brexit, Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine, all brought the vulnerabilities and unsustain-ability of the globalised food system into stark relief, inspiring a move to bring food growing closer to home. 

The team believes that growing more food within the community can yield not only the most nutritious and tastiest results, fresh and organic, but can also support biodiversity, the local economy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. 

Hastings permaculture pract-itioner and TTH member Anna Locke initiated the project with help from a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund Together for Our Planet. She says:

“I first became involved in the Transition Town movement in 2009. What I liked about the movement back then, and still now, is the optimism and creativity of ground-up community experiments that reimagine ways of living rather than focus on doom about our future. That said, many fears are coming true: what seemed like a vague, miles-away prospect of expensive energy and food has now very much arrived on our doorsteps, in our petrol stations and supermarkets. 

“For me, this is the essence of the Town Grown project, as a town we can bypass higher prices by grow-ing our own. Like the local food movement pioneers before us have shown – there is another way to live; more independently, with greater agency and we might even enjoy it better, seeing change as an opportunity. Growing food offers a greater connection to our real needs, whilst becoming more aware of the nature around us.

“The network seeks to be a supportive arena where both established and prospective grow-ers can connect, share skills and resources and learn how to grow more edibles, more effectively and more enjoyably, with others on a similar journey. 

Whether it’s helping find more growing space, matching volun-teers with projects needing workers or hosting specific educational sessions, Town Grown’s efforts will be shaped by its members via an open-to-all survey on its website.”

Anna continues: “We’ve set it up as a place where you can say what you would like to learn, and we can try to provide that learning experience for you. We would love to see everyone’s gardens, allotments, community gardens, public spaces, local farms and other projects absolutely brimming with a whole range of food plants!  It’s about having a collective mind set to really live amongst our food again, creating community food legacies for us and our future town dwellers to go out and enjoy the harvest.”

Town Grown has a monthly stall at St Leonards Market where all are welcome to bring seeds, seedlings and produce to swap and meet with other growers, as well as a variety of workshops and advice sessions with dates and details posted on the website:

When we plant a seed, there is hope. When we harvest a plant, we are nourished and when we plant a tree, there is abundance of food for our future town.

Anna Locke [email protected], 07946 228110.
Hannah Robbins [email protected], 07841 848235.

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