Campaign group Gardens and Open Spaces Hull (GOSH) is sending an Open Letter to every one of the city’s councillors asking for their help in tackling the twin issues of food security and healthy eating.
GOSH was set up by gardeners and eco-enthusiasts in the wake of Covid-19. Their vision is for a new community-council partnership, designed by the city’s network of growers and wilders, that will enable and facilitate local people to cultivate their own food.
Elizabeth Heywood of The Green Corridor, a west-Hull ecology project, said: “The pandemic showed us how fragile our systems are. As a city we’re facing the devastating consequences of Covid, Brexit and climate change. We need to work together to ensure we all have access to fresh, healthy food and the means to grow it ourselves.
“Many of us in Hull don’t have our own gardens, so we need to think more creatively about where we can grow food, and many more of us don’t have the knowledge or skills – we don’t know where to start. That’s where Hull’s network of growing gurus can help.”
Margaret Milner, Secretary of the Hull & East Riding Allotments Society, said: “We are blessed with lots of brilliant organisations and community groups involved in growing food, running food banks and encouraging biodiversity. They’re doing an amazing job!
“Growing things and feeding people is what we do. But what if we all got together with the council and turned that common purpose into feeding the city of Hull. Just imagine what we could achieve.”
According to research carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) during the height of the pandemic: “Food was a continual source of concern and worry rather than nourishment and security. Food anxiety didn’t go away when supermarket shelves re-filled. There were no treats and little comforts at the end of a hard day. Many quickly cut calorie intake and reduced the quality of the food eaten – with far-reaching physical and emotional impact. Many children went without.” Food Standards Agency (July 2020) The Lived Experience of Food Insecurity Under Covid-19
The report goes on to state that “food insecurity has more than doubled under Covid-19 and lockdown. Food insecurity levels in May 2020 were 250% higher than pre-Covid. Roughly 16% of people have skipped meals/cut meal sizes for financial reasons. And as of June 2020 1 in 4 young people [under 25] were experiencing food insecurity.”
Kate Macdonald, Director of Timebank Hull & East Riding, said: “There is no need for people here to go without. As a city we can and must create the conditions to enable us to grow far more of our own food and share that produce with those in need.
“To do this we must use our gardens and whatever open spaces are available: verges, fields, roundabouts, parks. We also need wild places for pollinators to ensure these efforts bear fruit.”
GOSH aims to establish a new compact with Hull City Council that enables individuals and community groups to take on unused or underused public spaces quickly, easily and effectively.
Wendy Gregory of East Hull Community Garden Guerrillas said: “A new ethos of partnership working with each other and the Council is essential to make Hull better, kinder and stronger.
“Together we can facilitate activities and teach skills that will make the city more neighbourly, more resilient and better able not only to withstand future challenges but also to thrive.”
Kate Macdonald said: “We want to create upstream solutions where we have a city of food growers and an ethos of sharing our seedlings and our gluts, meaning no one in this city has to rely on handouts.
“Hull and the surrounding area already has so many committed growers willing to share their knowledge, which means families can learn how to grow healthy, nutritious food for themselves and share the benefits for mind and body of getting back to nature. Please join Hull’s growing Land Army.”
GOSH is starting with an Open Letter to Hull’s councillors, seeking their support in bringing about change and helping to devise a unified food and biodiversity policy. The letter is also available online on Facebook and Twitter for anyone to sign.
Elizabeth Heywood added: “This is just the beginning. Join us! Our futures depend on it and there is no time to lose.”
Gardens and Open Spaces Hull is supported by the following city groups:
CASE Training Allotment
Clough Road Allotments
Coltman Street Community
Community Garden Guerrillas, Hull
Down To Earth Hull
East Hull Community Farm
Friends of Alderman Kneeshaw Park
Friends of Garrowby Orchard
Friends of Thinkers Corner
Friends of Western Library
Holderness Community Orchards
Holderness Woodland Group
HU4 Community Network
Hull Afro Caribbean Association
Hull & East Riding Allotment Society
Hull & East Yorkshire Green Party
Hull Community Diggers
Hull Food Partnership
Hutt Street Tenants and Residents Association
Kingswood Residents Association
Kneeshaw Park Gardening Volunteers
Library of Stuff CIC
Marfleet Village Community
Newland Allotments Tenants Association
No Dig Community Allotment
Oak Road Allotments
Pickering Community Orchard
PositHive/positive Hull CIC
Princes Avenue Community & Traders
Rooted in Hull
Rubbish Friends of Hull
The Green Corridor
Thoresby Edible Forest & Community Garden (@TheEdge)
Timebank Hull & East Riding
[Elizabeth Heywood – GOSH]