The Waterside Food Project

Food is central to life, without good nutrition we fail to thrive, for many reasons the UK is in crisis around food. Seems a silly thing to say, after all we are a rich western nation, but with depleted soils, overuse of industrial chemical fertilisers, the drive for ever increasing profits around food, ready meals, palm oil and other fillers, laziness on our part, climate in crisis, and that’s before we get to poverty, and the wastage of food that seems to be part of everyday life. 

At New Forest Aquaponics CIC everything we do connects to food in some way or other, after all we grow food!  Even though at the time of writing we are looking for our permanent home, that is not stopping us progressing with our work. Let me tell you about The Waterside Food Project. 

This part of our work will cover 

Food waste, collecting surplus and unsold food from supermarkets.

Food poverty, getting the food we collect handed out to those in need. 

Growing Food, encouraging others to have a go at growing some of their food. 

Cooking, inspiring more cooking and less takeaways. 

Knowledge, empowering people to understand where and how their food gets to them. 

Compost, we compost anything that cannot be used by people or animals to ensure no waste at all.  And of course that takes us back to growing food!

It was by chance that four families have found themselves working together on the first of these issues, the food waste. Starting with just one day a week, and one supermarket, to 7 days a week and 6 supermarkets collected from at different intervals. 

As a working group we have 3 different groups at our core, New Forest Aquaponics CIC is just one small part of the surplus food group. One is a charity and has service users, who benefit from the flowers and snacks.  The other group  does an amazing job by handing out food at pop ups reaching 40 to 50 plus people a week. Between us we work out the best route for the food to have maximum positive impact. 

We also share with groups who cook for others, two who cook for the homeless, one cooking meals for families during school holidays, providing ingredients to make cakes for fundraising, and food bags for emergency needs.  It really does show when we work together truly great things can happen, and we can strengthen communities. 

Community fridges take on many forms, we are trying to get a community fridge local to us. While we are working on finding a suitable place to house a fridge and freezer that people will be able to access, we have a food box outside our house. In it is always bread, and then tins and packets from the surplus food collections, and if possible fresh produce. Sometimes we get huge amounts of one type of food, sharing out over many routes makes sure it will get used. 

Slowly people are beginning to put foods they will not use into the box, we have many neighbours who use the local food library  – paying a minimal amount for a huge bag of foods, but with no choice as to what is in the bag – they often get far more of one thing than they would ever use themselves, or foods they don’t know how to use, or like. Instead of those foods sitting in the cupboard they can share with others, and take foods they will use and eat.

A friend was inspired to set up a box in Totton, and another is being planned for Hythe. We hope we can get a network of them going across the area. 

The food boxes can also be a way for seed, seedling, and plant sharing and a few have already asked if they will be able to bring home grown produce to the box. 

The answer is always a huge big YES, and if there is lots we can help get fresh foods to others who might not always be able to have access to it. Of course this will only work with community engagement, I am looking forward to seeing how this develops 🙂 

The composting part of the project is developing well, we have 7 pallet sized compost bins for any vegetables and fruits that cannot be used by people or animals, and cooked and processed foods are being composted using bokashi composting methods Over a two week period at Christmas we bokashi over 100kgs of processed foods, that was around 10% of all of the food we collected and handed out during Christmas.   Things we were able to get out to help people included 120 fresh turkeys, 400kg of carrots, and the same of potatoes and brussel sprouts! 

One of the two cars of turkeys at Christmas. it took 3 car loads to deal with the veg. Everything got eaten, many people who got a turkey had not been able to afford to buy one this Christmas.

If you’re wondering why the shops thought the vegetables were no good?  Christmas branded plastic bags…………and what happens when we don’t collect? It all goes in the bin. 

Composting is a perfect community action, one we can all take part in.  This year we will be running courses on how to compost in your own home, using the best method to suit your situation, and also help others get community composting sites up and running in the waterside.

The cooking side of the project will take a little time, but if you know of anyone with appropriate skills who would be interested in helping move this side forward please put them in touch with us.

We are just one little part of the cog in a whole system surrounding food. Huge numbers of people across the UK are doing their bit to make the system a little bit better There needs to be a gear change on how we as a society think about, grow, and consume food. I hope our work can go a little way to shifting towards a more regenerative system that is fairer to people and our biosphere. 

Can you be part of that shift too?

Compost

Composting – nature’s way of keeping the planet healthy. 

Just imagine if nothing ever broke down? We would be in a real mess…….

Our biosphere works in such amazing ways with processes to keep itself and us healthy and clean.  It does this by breaking down all natural materials, and reusing them in an endless cycle. 

When us humans get involved it becomes composting – and although it is super simple, if it is organic it will break down to feed the earth – we like to make it complicated!

Composting gets forgotten as something we should do ourselves. We chop down the growth in our gardens, pay for it to be taken away, and then spend more money buying compost wrapped in plastic…….

Although it is very simple to create your own composting, because of the way we live, we need to look at all the different techniques, so we use the best for our homes or communities. And composting can help rebuild our soils and space for other species to live, however small. 

As part of our regenerative work we will be running community composting, teaching how to compost, how to use different methods depending on the situation, combining methods, and using the compost to grow good food (we use decoupled aquaponics as well) and build soil health. 

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about.  

Sharing our working ethos, so you can understand the why, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

This pictures is page that explains our working ethos around compost  – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

Please do fill in the survey – it is really important we can show we have the support to get to the next stage. follow the link or use the QR code

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

Why?

New Forest Aquaponics cic want to build a community owned farm.

Why?

My wake up call. 

I have always been aware of the damage we are doing to our biosphere, and ourselves, what I hadn’t quite been aware of was what was happening to our communities.

Whilst I had been busy working, and bringing up my boys, with my head in my own bubble of interests something had happened………..

I didn’t realize what that was till I had my stroke, when not one single person knocked on our door…….

We had lived on our road for 21 years at the time, and it was quite obvious that something serious had happened in our family, but yet no one even asked if we were okay. 

As I recovered and started talking about this to people, I  found that although people have lots of friends, most of those now are connected via social media or clubs and very few met with people who lived locally to them.

Now I know that that’s not true about everyone, some are lucky to have really good local connections, but others have even less and don’t even have the supporting groups on social media as back up. 

The intention is to create a place where people can come and find connection. And yes for many that will still be online, but we are setting up our own communication channels that will feel more inclusive,  the aim  to connect online with in person.

By looking at the bigger circle of how all of this connects together – food, community, lifeskills, and all of the ways these inteconnet and bring them all together we can start the work of real forward change to a community that puts back more than it takes out. That heals and nurtures, both us and our home, the biosphere. 

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about.  

Sharing our working ethos, so you can understand the why, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

This picture is the third page of our working ethos   – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic  (one member one vote) share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. https://forms.gle/gHNjuYggDpJAnMTs5