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The Grown in Dagenham project at Dagenham Farm started in January 2016 and ended in December 2018. The project built on the community outreach work we had done since the farm opened in 2012 and enabled us to work with local lone parents, residents, young people and students. Hundreds of local residents and young people benefited from learning how to grow food and cook food with others. The Big Lottery's Reaching Communities Fund funded the project.
Over the three years of the GiD programme we worked with 11 trainees, 790 school children (three-quarters of the pupils at William Bellamy School), and another 2000 local residents who volunteered or visited the farm.
There were several key project areas:
We ran weekly school food-growing and cooking sessions for 60 William Bellamy students plus weekly sessions for Assisted Learning students from Barking and Dagenham College. Click on this link to see photos of our work with local schools.
Our funding enabled us to set up a food-growing club for William Bellamy school students and a holiday food-growing club, Growing on Holiday. The club was for young people aged 9-18 and included lunch made from fresh farm produce. Activities included planting out, harvesting soft fruit, learning to cook farm produce - and eating! Click on this link to see photos of previous holiday clubs.
Over the three years of Grown in Dagenham we trained 11 local unemployed and lone parents in food growing and food production, teaching them how to use farm produce to make Grown in Dagenham products – including Grown in Dagenham Tommy K Ketchup, DagenJAM and Sweet As... pickle. Our trainees learnt the basics of food hygeine, food growing, harvesting and food preparation as well as marketing and retailing. Click here to see our 2016 and 2017 trainees in action. Several of our trainees now have full-time or part-time jobs as a result of their training with us. In 2016 we won the London-wide Roots to Work award for our training programme.
"My experience has been fantastic – I enjoy a lot! I feel more confidence and I feel really good. I’ve got lots of experience, I got lots of things from the farm. They give us good thought – we can think what we never thought before." Trainee, 2018
During the GiD programme, the farm was open every Wednesday (between March and early December) for local residents to learn more about food growing and get fresh air and exercise through volunteering on the farm. For more about our current volunteering opportunities, go to our Volunteering page. The Lottery funding enabled us to open the farm on Sundays for volunteering and produce sales. We also ran large scale Open Days on the farm: our annual DagenJAM event - click here to see photos.
We offered free places on a dedicated session for local Barking and Dagenham residents with mental health issues on Wednesdays as part of our Grown in Dagenham project.
“For fifteen months I didn’t need medical intervention – it was the longest period for six years and I place it squarely here.” Service user, November 2017
We’re actively fundraising so we can continue working in Dagenham with young people with mental health issues and families on very low incomes – so hope we’ll have another array of good outcomes to report in the future.