Veg4Reading

A tonne of tasty veg for a "Good Cause"

Veg4Reading has been selected by the Co-operative Local Community Fund as a ‘Good Cause’ that Co-op members can support when doing their own food shop.

Weighing the vegThe project, which was only set up in July, has now delivered nearly a tonne of fresh fruit and vegetables for free distribution to people in Reading badly affected by the Coronavirus crisis.

Project Coordinator, Naomi German, said “It’s very rewarding to have Veg4Reading valued in this way, especially for our dozens of volunteers who have stepped up to help grow the produce that is so desperately needed. It’s so important that we can keep our food growing and distribution going into next year because sadly, even when this virus is beaten, the knock-on effects on people in need will continue for a long time to come and we want to be there to help”.

Co-operative members can help by nominating Food4Families as their chosen good cause, which means that whenever they scan their card in the shop, or use any other Co-op service, 4p of every pound spent will go to help Reading people in need. Anyone who shops at a Co-op can become a member for free and choose Food4Families as your local good cause https://membership.coop.co.uk/causes/51412 to help support people in Reading.

Sharing our local Community Harvest

Growing beans and salad at Lavender PlaceFresh, healthy produce from Veg4Reading is grown in five community gardens that were extended for this purpose, enabling hundreds of families and others badly affected by the fallout from the Coronavirus crisis to enjoy fresh organic fruit and vegetables as part of Reading’s broader community food distribution effort.

Beth Scott, gardener at Lavender Place Community Garden was enthusiastic about the fruits of their labour: "We have been weighing the produce and by the end of September we’d distributed over 850kg fresh fruit and veg to our partners - Whitley Community Development Association, New Beginnings Reading, Sadaka, Reading Red Kitchen, CIRDIC and the Weller Centre. They give out food parcels to Reading families in need or cook meals for other vulnerable people, such as refugees or people who are homeless. Between them they provide food to about 1,920 people per month. We still have some winter veg to harvest, so the total is still rising!"

New Beginnings with lettuce donationsSimone Prendiville who has been providing food parcels and meals from the Weller Centre in Amersham Road told us, “getting fresh, healthy produce will be a fantastic addition to the regular food support we have been providing to families. There is a real, ongoing need for this support and the fact that this is possible through local growers and volunteers is a great expression of Reading’s community spirit”.

More than 70 local Covid responders volunteered with Veg4Reading over the summer, clearing ground, constructing new growing beds, planting and cropping produce. Many have now been able to return to work, but others will continue to help through the winter in preparation for next year, when more volunteers will be needed.

Beth Scott went on to explain that “as well as providing fresh healthy produce for those in need, Veg4Reading also gives people the opportunity to get out of the house; socially distanced gardening is a great way of staying healthy and feeling positive in these troubled times. You don’t need to be an experienced gardener; we can teach you the basics and provide all the tools - everyone is welcome”.

If you would like to help or just find out more, please complete the Veg4Reading Volunteer Application Form or email the project co-ordinator at admin@risc.org.uk

Collection and delivery volunteers with the first deliveryDonations from Food4Families gardens

One of our volunteers made a video about growing for Veg4Reading at Lavender Place Community Gardens: Kath's Lavender Place.

The Veg4Reading project was initially made possible through funding from the Government Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, Reading Borough Council’s COVID-19 grants programme and Berkshire Community Foundation.