This project challenges people to find out more about the local food and produce on offer in the New Forest. It aims to support local producers and farmers, get more people growing their own food and strengthen local communities by bringing people together.
You can find us on Facebook supporting local producers, community shops and products.
We also support local growing projects with small amounts of funding.
Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/NFFoodChallenge
What we’ve been up to, most recent first.
July 2022 – Secured some funding from South West Water
We’ve just heard that we have secured funding for another year from SW Water. The proposal is for 4 smaller units:
|Peat free compost, seeds, labels, stickers to keep sowing and donating|
|Autumn pollinators project – flowers, bulbs, compost, printing|
|Film some short videos to share on sowing, watering, harvesting, storing, jamming etc..|
|Autumn fruit bushes eg blackcurrants, larger pots, compost|
2022 with funding from Co-op Local Communities Fund
Our Sowing Seeds for Local Food project continues to offer seeds and seedlings at 5 seed stations around Lymington and Pennington. Offering an easy start to help residents grow their own. The tables are also used for people to put their excess produce which has so far included bundles of rhubarb and stems of rosemary.
Seedlings so far have included peas, beans, cabbage, parsnip, borage, mint, strawberry plants and lavender.
2021 with funding from One Stop Community Partnership and Aviva Community Fund
Transition Lymington wanted to expand the seedling table from 2020 to include more tables and more seedlings. The community grant from One Stop allowed us to do this in a more organised way with money to continue to buy peat-free compost and seeds over six months. We also bought a bike trailer to transport the seedlings between tables, plus we had 250 mini cook books designed and printed, working with our local allotment group on recipes and wild ideas.
We started a facebook group – Sowing seeds for Local food – where we spread the word about which seedlings were available and where they could be found. Plus invited photos, stories, tips and more from the group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/269690794582984
Wildlife – We have been offering herbs and flowering seedlings eg borage, mint, parsley, coriander, sunflowers which in turn offer flowers and nectar to bees and other pollinating insects. The growing areas would have also offered leaves and food for caterpillars and cover for homes. We’ve bought lavender plugs to pot up for the local Bee Fayre and used some of the Aviva money to subsidise some berry bushes delivered in October.
Community – The project pulled together over 100 individuals on line and in person on the street, who were enthused to grow some of their own food. We had a number of great comments about how ‘community’ the idea was, and how people could put their own swaps and excesses back on the table for others.
2020 Lockdown with funding from Radian
Over lockdown one day, we put out our excess seedlings on a table, by the road and found that it was quickly noticed by passers-by. We applied for a small grant from Radian to buy more seeds and potting compost in order to do it a bit more purposefully, and found our table was much used and much appreciated in the strange and lonely times of lockdown.
With no events happening we also started to make some very simple homemade videos on growing, harvesting, making elderflower cordial, making nematode soup (for slugs!) & comfrey tea (for plants) composting and wormeries. We uploaded them to Youtube and shared them on line, sharing the knowledge and experience of the group.
2017 – 2019 – not funded
The New Forest Food Challenge existed on Facebook – sharing information and ideas for growing your own plus dates about local food and market events.
2011 – 2016 with funding from NFDC Brand New Forest project
2009 -2010 with funding from New Forest National Park – Sustainable Communities Fund
Over the first 2 years of the New Forest Food Challenge we ran and/or attend 51 events, we met and spoke to over 2500 people. We visited 4 schools, offered free local food samples at 12 summer fairs, gave away 250 free fruit trees to schools, groups and individuals across the forest. We organised talks and films, had a stall at the New Forest Show and ran a trip to Martin, a village in the north of the forest, who’s Futurefarms project has the whole village growing and rearing together.
Also during this time we set up our first garden share, pairing a young family with an elderly couple so that knowledge, skills, experience, friendship, land and produce could be shared between them.
The project was funded by the National Park’s Sustainable Communities Fund and was able to offer 10 hours a month for a year and a half to help promote local food and producers.