Growing Communities is a community-led organisation based in Hackney, north-east London, which has been helping Londoners feel good about their food choices since 1996. We're transforming what we eat, how we eat and how it's farmed for the better.

We live by a set of core values that guide everything we do. Take a look:
 

Mission driven

We're not in it for the big bucks. Instead, we're all about trading for social good, not just to fill pockets. GC veg scheme members have raised over £60k for local food banks via our Food Credit programme. 

Sustainable sourcing

We keep it green, using the Food Zones as a framework, meaning what you buy from GC comes from local, seasonal sources whenever possible.

Low-impact distribution

We keep our carbon footprint small by using resources wisely and minimising waste. Every year we save over 250,000 plastic bags, wraps, nets and punnets by prioritising loose produce. We're zero airfreight and working towards zero emissons. Currently, 50% of the shed deliveries are by electric van and we're launching our own fleet of electric cargo bikes. 

Fair trade

We are a Living Wage employer paying our farmers and suppliers what they deserve.

Ecological advocacy

We're on a mission to support farming practices that are good for the earth and its inhabitants. We're proud to be pesticide free and Soil Association Certified. Every year we train the next crop of organic growers on our own urban farms.

Healthy eating

We're all about promoting diets that are good for both people and the planet and it's working - 85% of our members crunch through 5-10 portions of fruit and veg every day! If you want to increase your uptake of fresh, minimally processed and predominately plant-based food, you're in the right place.

Community building

In 2020, we launched the Better Food Trader Network as part of our mission to strengthen communities around good food. In 2024 it spun off into a CIC and welcomed its 170th member! 

Transparency & trust

We believe honesty is the best policy. That means being upfront about our finances and building solid relationships throughout the food chain.

Big picture thinking

We're not just about small changes. We're working to transform the entire food system for the better.

So, if you're passionate about good food and positive change there's a place for you in our community, whether it's joining our local, organic veg bag scheme, shopping at our farmers' market or getting involved with our urban farms.

 

How we're building a better world through food

In 2021, The New Economics Foundation did some research into Growing Communities in partnership with the Soil Association.

 

“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.”

 

Here are some highlights from the report

 

 

Thinktank NEF Consulting wrote the Farmer-Focused Routes to Market: An Evaluation of Growing Communities.report 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.

 

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).

 

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

Better Food Shed: 30 Hancock Road, Bow, London, E3 3DA