Veg4Reading – sharing the local community harvest

A project in Reading to share fresh vegetables and fruit with hundreds of families and others badly affected by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis has made its first deliveries from their ‘home-grown’ harvest last week

Basic food parcels have been a lifeline for many people in Reading who have found their incomes suddenly drop or who have struggled to access support during the crisis. Veg4Reading is a new project, created by RISC, that is supplementing the tinned and dry foods community organisations and charities have been providing, with fresh, locally grown fruit and veg from community gardens and allotments across Reading.

Project worker, Naomi German, said: “We realised that some of the dozens of community gardens created by RISC, such as Whitley GrowAllot in Whitley and Lavender Place in the town centre, could be expanded and with the help of volunteers we could grow a lot more produce. Groups like Whitley Community Development Association and New Beginnings told us that the food support they were distributing lacked fresh produce so, as soon as our gardens reopened, we began to plan and plant extra growing space and the result is Veg4Reading. We are also aiming to involve allotment and home growers across Reading in donating their produce to the project now that the harvest season is in full swing”.

Veg4Reading will be working through Whitley Community Development Association, New Beginnings, Sadaka, Red Kitchen and the Weller Centre to distribute the fruit and vegetables grown around the town. Simone Prendiville from the Weller Centre said “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”.

Get involved

Staff and volunteers from the community gardens will plan and supervise planting and growing, but the project will also provide lots of opportunities for people to get out in the fresh air as volunteers with procedures in place to ensure a ‘Covid safe’ environment. More volunteers are needed now to assist with growing, collection and distribution through the summer months and into autumn. No previous growing skills are required as experienced tutors and others will be on hand to provide guidance and support at weekday and weekend sessions in community gardens across town.

If you have a couple of hours to spare to get involved with Veg4Reading please email admin@risc.org.uk. Find more information at www.food4families.org.uk and Veg4Reading Facebook page or in RVA volunteering opportunities here.

Further information
  • The Veg4Reading project has been made possible through funding from the Government Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, and Reading Borough Council’s Covid-19 grants programme.
  • Photo 1 (main image): Steve Powell Veg4Reading volunteer and project worker Naomi German; photo 2: Kellie, New Beginnings volunteer.
  • For further information, contact Dave Richards: dave@risc.org.uk or 07947 057468.