A rush of cities join urban food growing project The Big Dig

Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming [1] has announced that six new cities have joined the Big Dig [2] bringing the total number of cities involved to twelve.

BigDigBath, Bradford, Birmingham and Newcastle have all become Big Dig cities following the lead of Oxford and Nottingham. They join the six original cities who together with Sustain and The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens [2] are working to get 10,000 people involved in urban food growing projects.

The project is funded by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund [3] and co-ordinated by Sustain.

By signing up a minimum of three food growing gardens to the Big Dig each of the cities will receive support to help them get new volunteers onto their site. Sustain will be co-ordinating what they hope will be the nation’s biggest ever community food volunteering event in March 2013 [4] and want at least 20 cities and towns to get involved to make this happen.

The Big Dig’s Clare Horrell said “We are really pleased to have some of the largest cities in England involved in the Big Dig. We want more towns and cities to join us so that together we can raise the profile of urban food growing nationally, get more people involved and highlight the important role it can play in building community and improving the health and wellbeing of people living in urban areas”.

Councillor Dave Trimble, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio holder for Leisure, Culture and Tourism said: “We are delighted to be the first new city to sign up to the Big Dig. We'd encourage other cities to do the same. It really is just a question of channelling community enthusiasm that is already there for growing your own. Working in partnership with the Big Dig will help us further raise the profile of food growing in the city and encourage more people to get involved”.

1. The Big Dig is co-ordinated nationally by Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming which advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. http://www.sustainweb.org/

2. The Big Dig is is a nationwide project which aims to engage over 10,000 people in community food-growing projects across England. The following organisations are leading The Big Dig in each of the cities:

  • Bath – Transition Bath

  • Birmingham - Representatives of six food growing initiatives are currently leading the group. More information about the group can be found through Growing Birmingham

  • Bradford – Bradford City Council and Bradford Community Environment Project

  • Brighton & Hove – Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

  • Coventry – Garden Organic

  • London – Capital Growth

  • Manchester – The Kindling Trust

  • Middlesbrough – Middlesbrough Environment City

  • Newcastle – Food Nation

  • Nottingham - Nottingham City Council Parks and Open Spaces Services

  • Oxford – Community Action Groups Project

  • Sheffield – Grow Sheffield

The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens is also a partner in the project and is providing advice to community groups on land issues as well as organising training sessions.

The project builds on the success of Capital Growth which has helped over 60,000 people to get involved in new community food-growing spaces in London. Capital Growth’s Edible Open Garden’s event in 2011 attracted over 1,500 visitors to community growing spaces in the capital.

Follow The Big Dig on twitter @thebigdiguk, or visit our website www.bigdig.org.uk

3. The Big Dig is funded by the Social Action Fund and is managed by The Social Investment Business, on behalf of the Cabinet Office. The Fund supports social action projects in England from civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses with a track record of running social action programmes. The Social Action Fund is part of a broader programme of support for social action that was announced in the Giving White Paper and takes its place alongside two other sources of funding - Innovation in Giving Fund and Challenge Prizes.

4. The March Big Dig event will run from 16th to 22nd March 2013. Volunteer opportunities and events will be taking place across all the gardens involved in the Big Dig to make it the largest ever community food growing volunteer action day.

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