Changing the
food system
since 1996

Building a better world through food

Every £1 you spend buying organic food through Growing Communities, generates £3.70 in benefits to you, farmers, citizens and the planet.

It demonstrates that local food retailers who sell food from climate-friendly farmers generate significant value for the people that eat the food, grow the food and the environment. 

As a fruit and veg scheme member or farmers’ market customer, you enjoy “multiple benefits” in terms of improved health and wellbeing and reduced food waste: 

•    You eat more fresh, seasonal produce and less processed food than you did before and you feel healthier. 
•    You waste less food by cooking from scratch and becoming more adventurous cooks.
•    You feel more involved with your community.

There are also many benefits for the environment, farmers and communities: 

•    Buying organic food through GC has a positive impact on wildlife, biodiversity and soil health.
•    Buying organic food through GC produces fewer greenhouse gases in production and distribution. 
•    Buying food through GC allows local farmers to survive and thrive.
•    Buying seasonal and wonky food through GC cuts on-farm waste.
•    Buying food through GC creates secure, local, Living-Wage jobs.

Growing Communities has strict principles about how the food it sells is sourced and sold: using only organic, climate-friendly food; paying fair prices to local sustainable farmers; keeping supply chains short; and encouraging people to eat less meat and processed food and more fresh fruit and veg.

“This study shows we’re delivering on all the elements we want from a good food and farming system,” says GC director Julie Brown. “Decent and healthy food for all (fresh, seasonal and mainly plant-based); nature-friendly food production; and engaged and empowered citizens willing and able to feed themselves. “I’d argue that we – and our national network of Better Food Traders – do this a lot better than the supermarket-driven system, which is currently failing to deliver on those things.”

In financial terms, every £1 spent with Growing Communities generates benefits worth £3.46 for the people eating the food (including the value of the food itself); 32p for the environment; 11p for the farmers; and 7p for GC staff.

Thinktank NEF Consulting wrote the Farmer-Focused Routes to Market: An Evaluation of Growing in partnership with organic certification body Soil Association based on research with Growing Communities’ customers, farmers and staff.

Julie's reveals what the findings mean to her.

Report author Christian Jaccarini explains what this means for the future of food retail.


Who we are

Growing Communities is a community-led organisation based in Hackney, North London, which is providing a real, practical alternative to the current damaging food system – changing what we eat, how we eat and how it's farmed.

Over the past 25 years, we have worked to harness the collective buying power and skills of our community to reshape the food and farming systems that feed us. Our organic fruit and vegetable bag scheme and the Growing Communities Farmers' Market aim to provide more secure and fairer markets for the farmers, growers and producers who we believe should be the foundation of a sustainable agriculture system.

GC director Julie Brown explains what's wrong with the mainstream food system and how to put it right. Film made by Crossway Film.

Read our latest annual reports.

If we are to create the sustainable re-localised food systems that will see us through the challenges ahead, we need to work together with communities and farmers to take our food system back from the supermarkets and agribusiness.

Listen to Chen on Gilly Smith's Right2Food podcast, as she explains GC's vision for localised, sustainable food and how the way we work brings so many benefits for people and planet compared with the broken, wasteful mainstream system. (The GC bit starts at about 13 minutes in).


Growing good food and good food growers

Our pioneering and award-winning urban farms in Hackney and Dagenham produce fantastic local salad, fruit and vegetables, while also training local residents, including children and lone parents, in food growing and production.

We also consider the bigger picture and work to create wider change: articulating our vision, advocating in support of our aims and replicating our projects.


The Better Food Traders

We have helped other groups around the UK to set up similar veg schemes to ours. Together we are the Better Food Traders.

We are an accredited Better Food Trader. This sign of quality ensures the food we trade is farmed sustainably, the way we trade is fair to farmers, good to the environment and transparent to customers. By creating a network of Better Food Traders we are providing people with an ethically driven alternative to the current UK food system.

We monitor and measure everything we do against our key principles to track our impact on the food system and to ensure our activities and practices are fair and transparent.

Growing Communities from Ellie King on Vimeo.

Growing Communities is a not-for-profit company with a constitution and a voluntary board. Box scheme members can stand for and elect the board at our Annual General Meeting in December. Current board members are:

Sarah Havard (Chair)
Richard Dana (Treasurer) 
Amanda McDonell
Anna Khalfaoui 
Clare Hitchcock 
Geraldine Gilbert
Kath Dalmeny
Natalie Silk

Growing Communities is a company registered in England and Wales, number 03438761. The Old Fire Station, 61 Leswin Road, London N16 7NX