Communities grow stronger
when they’re growing together
Over the past two years, we’ve worked hard to build gardening communities and help people feed themselves
on wholesome, natural fruit and veg. Working with many multidisciplinary groups in the local area, including
Newcastle borough council and the Cornerstone Community Centre, we continue to grow, in size, spirit and scope,
in and around the North Staffordshire area.
When we heard about food poverty, we decided to do something about it
For us, food poverty is all about not being able to feed yourself, either because you can’t afford it or
because you don’t have the knowhow. We’re here to teach people about nutrition and growing their
own food, from bed to belly.
We help out in the community food garden at Queen Elizabeth II park in Newcastle under Lyme, which is run by
Newcastle Borough Council in partnership with groups in the local area, including Status Grow. Anyone can go
into the food garden and take as much as they need, all free of charge — helping people feed themselves
on wholesome, natural food.
Fresh food is an issue for those in food poverty
Foodbanks are wonderful things, but three weeks of food has to have a long shelf life, which means a lot of
tinned and dried food, filled with preservatives. That’s fine, as long as you have some fresh food to
go along with it. That’s where we come in.
The Queen Elizabeth II park community food garden was set up to solve this exact issue: free fresh fruit and
veg for anyone to take, so those in food poverty can eat healthily, no matter their income or how much space
they have in their back garden.
The story of Status Grow
From 2012 to today, this is where we’ve been and where we’re going
In June 2012, volunteer Jayne Fair realised the fundamental problem of foodbanks not providing fresh
fruit and veg, and set out to solve the problem. With the help of chairperson
Alan Barrett, treasurer Julie Oxberry, and secretary Helen Kennedy, Status Grow was founded.
The first plot was graciously lent to us by the Cornerstone Community Centre. Our next job was to start
digging so we could plant our first crops. However, there was a slight hiccup: the soil on the plot is
filled to bursting with clay beneath the surface, so when the rains arrived, the trench looked like this:
About two days later
Needless to say, there weren’t many potatoes flowering that year. In fact, there weren’t any,
but all the best things come from humble beginnings, right? We soon realised that we’d need raised
beds, so that was our next task …
In August 2012, we were pleased to find that Status Grow had been chosen by the Prince’s Trust
to be one of their projects. Working with a team of 11, we designed and built five raised beds for
our Silverdale site. The materials used to build and fill the raised beds — wood, nails,
soil, etc. — were all scrounged from the local area or paid for by the hard work of the
Prince’s Trust team.
In April 2013, we began work on the next stage of our growth: our social area. Destined to be the site
of our outdoor kitchen and training space, we began by building our willow yurt. With funding from
Staffordshire County Council, we were able to employ a professional willow artist who worked with a
team of volunteers to build the structure.
Though largely finished by Summer 2013, the yurt was finally completed in September 2014 with the addition
tyre chairs with wooden and grass seats.
In July 2014, we began building our outdoor kitchen. With the help of our willow artist, we built a
stone-age roundhouse, with no modern building techniques, such as nails and glue, being used. It comes
complete with free-standing roof using only the power of gravity and a few pieces of wood to make it
stand. The full project is due to be completed by Summer 2015.
Cornerstone Community Centre site
Our first site is located in Silverdale, on land graciously lent to us by the Cornerstone Community Cerntre.
We first started work there in 2012, and it is now home to our community garden, willow yurt, and cobb oven under
a hut built using traditional Saxon techniques. We also have tomatoes growing on potato root stock, so we’ll
have tomatoes on top and potatoes on bottom, all from one plant. The site is located on Mill Street in Silverdale.
See it in Google Maps →
Queen Elizabeth II park food garden
Our second site is located in Newcastle, and is run in co-operation with Newcastle Borough Council. We work together
and with the local community to grow free, fresh food for anyone to take, helping to feed those in food poverty living
in the Newcastle area. The community food garden has carrots, beetroot, potatoes, and rhubarb, among others, in raised
beds, as well as summer fruits for people to enjoy, a bug hotel, and flowers to help the bee population.
See it in Google Maps →
Status Grow is always looking for volunteers and people to help out in any way. Seed donations and fresh
ideas are also welcome. If you’d like to see the work that’s going on, you can drop by either site
while the gates are still open during the daytime.