New growing initiative aims to ‘re-imagine’ Guernsey’s food landscape
Edible Guernsey, an ambitious growing project, has been launched to help drive interest in local food production and organisers are hoping the island will get behind the charity with sponsorship and volunteers. The project includes a community farm and a food directory listing local growers and is committed to providing educational opportunities and to preserving the island’s wealth of local growing knowledge.
The Edible Farm is a three vergee* site based at Plaisance in St Peter’s. The old Sandpiper Vinery has been secured on a ten-year lease and the large greenhouse has already been cleared. Planting will soon begin, educational spaces have been planned and in time the team hope to convert an old shed into a farm shop.
Volunteers will be able to give their time and labour on the farm in exchange for food grown. This system has been conceived to overcome one of the primary problems of food production. ‘Labour costs are high and it’s one of the reasons Guernsey can’t compete with imports from countries with lower labour costs,’ explains Jock Pettitt, one of the charity’s founders.
‘We urge anyone to get involved. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have growing experience or much time to give. A few hours a week or just helping on an occasional basis will still mean you can take away some freshly grown produce,’ says Mr Pettitt.
The project will help to pass on and preserve the island’s treasured growing knowledge and has secured the help of ‘growing mentors’ including former Senior Advisor at the States of Guernsey Horticultural Advisory Service, John Woodward, who said: ‘Edible Guernsey’s new flagship venture will offer people, including those with absolutely no previous experience, the chance to help grow fruit and vegetables that they can then take a share of.
‘The beauty of this scheme is that it will let people do as much or as little as they feel they can manage. There will be someone on hand to manage the work and help with advice on how to do it. It’s simple, elegant and brilliant and the reason that no one has done it before, is that it is a massive undertaking to get it started. ‘
Leading local horticulturalist Malcolm Cleal added: ‘This project goes a long way to facilitating an understanding in the importance and value of producing food locally and organically. Guernsey’s future prosperity lies in the health and wellbeing of the residents, young and old and to have a site where people of all ages and abilities can participate and learn from the production of fruit and vegetables can only be to the benefit of everybody.’
An indoor fruit orchard will be one of the first areas to take shape. And in time, the Edible Farm will have livestock and could even feature a café serving food grown on the site.
Educational spaces will welcome visits from school children, helping to bring alive lessons about nutrition, ecology and food production. D’Arcy Brimson, the Education Department’s Health, Safety and Outdoor Education Manager said ‘Learning where food comes from and how it is grown supports the messages delivered in schools about healthy eating and healthy lifestyles as well as being fun and interactive. We at the Education Department look forward to seeing how the Edible Guernsey initiative develops.’
‘Islandmums is proud to support this local initiative’, says Sasha Kazantseva, Chief Mummy Officer of Islandmums Limited (formerly Guernseymums). ‘We are especially excited about the plans for educating families about growing food, knowledge that is increasingly being lost. We are what we eat and with Edible Guernsey we have a chance to educate thousands of local children about finding, growing and eating healthy food from hands on experiences.’
The Edible Guernsey project is also working on the Edible Directory, which they hope in time will become a definitive guide to local growers, farms, hedge veg stalls and small holdings on the island. Anyone can submit a listing via www.edibleguernsey.gg
The third focus for the charity is to increase awareness of foraging and to educate islanders about the foods which are found in the land and seascapes. In time Edible Guernsey hopes to encourage the responsible planting of edibles into the wider landscape. This will include parks, common land and coastal areas as well as planters, verges and window boxes throughout the island.
‘To date we have had a lot of help from a small band of volunteers and from the Community Service Scheme,’ says Mr Pettitt. ‘To take the project on we now need sponsorship, be that financial or for time and materials. We also need more people to get involved, there is no need to have growing knowledge, just a desire to get involved.’
David Winn Chairman of Osprey Investments, the owner of the site, comments: ‘I am delighted to support Edible Guernsey by providing the vinery, and enabling the charity’s objective, to re-imagine Guernsey’s food landscape, to get under way.’
Notes to editors
Media enquiries: please contact Nichole Sweetsur, Sweet PR on 07781155188 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone interested in getting involved in the project by offering sponsorship should email email@example.com
Anyone wishing to volunteer the time on the farm should email firstname.lastname@example.org
The founders Jon Pettit, Karen Marsh and Marguerite Talmage are available for comment.
Visits to the site can be arranged by emailing email@example.com
Directions to the Edible Farm
Pass the airport heading west towards St Peter’s village centre. Continue about half a mile until you see the new airport access gateway on your right (where La Mare Road used to be). Turn immediately left into Rue des Heches, the derelict part of the vinery site will be right in front of you as you make the turn. Drive up the lane approximately 100 metres and take the first entrance on the right hand side into the vinery site. Tel: 07911 719081
Perry’s ref 27H2
* Three vergees is approximately five acres