Groups growing fruit and vegetables for food banks are to benefit from crop plant donations for the third year running. Blaise Plant Nursery in Lawrence Weston is donating crop plants to over 45 community groups across the city who are supporting those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis, by growing food for food banks and schools.
The project to donate 10,000 fruit and vegetable plants started on 24 March with deliveries of potato and onion seedlings and will wrap up at the end of April with other vegetable and soft fruit plant deliveries. This is the third year that Blaise Plant Nursery has been able to provide these essential donations.
It all started in 2020 when the nursery was forced to close its shop following the UK Government announcement of the first COVID-19 lockdown. The shop opens seasonally and had only reopened two weeks before the lockdown for the spring planting season. With no indication of when the shop could reopen, Blaise Plant Nursery was left with a wealth of fruit and vegetable plants that needed to be planted before the season ended to avoid all the produce going to waste.
A team of Blaise Plant Nursery and Bristol City Council Parks Department staff organised the delivery of the fruit and vegetable plants to community growing groups in Bristol who were delivering food to those who were shielding or growing for food banks.
The donation scheme was awarded funding from Bristol City Council’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Programme to continue in 2021 as the effects of the third COVID-19 lockdown were felt in communities across the city. The plant donation project has had such a positive impact on communities, that the nursery was awarded further funding from the programme to repeat the donation project this year on a larger scale.
Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health, Communities and Bristol One City, said: “These plants have been feeding the city throughout two unprecedented years, providing reliable sources of food in the most turbulent times. We now face a cost-of-living crisis and as a Gold Sustainable Food City, it is vital that we continue to be as self-sufficient as possible so that everybody is able to put food on the table”.
Bristol was awarded Gold Sustainable Food City status in May 2021 by the UK’s independent, Sustainable Food Places Board. The donation project supports Bristol’s commitment to maintaining this status by increasing the amount of nature-friendly, low carbon food growing in the city and supporting food equality by improving access to nutritious, affordable and sustainably sourced food.
Rod Pooley, manager of Blaise Plant Nursery, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to lend a hand and help more people grow their own. All of our plants are grown in peat-free compost and are free of pesticides, we hope we can encourage more people to take up environmentally-friendly gardening”.
For over 30 years Blaise Plant Nursery has been providing businesses and councils with hanging baskets, bedding plants and container displays, adding colour to town centres across the country. A few years ago, the nursery opened its shop which is very popular with local residents for the great value and locally grown plants, all cultivated using environmentally friendly and sustainable methods.
By setting the wheels in motion now, together we can transform the future of food in our city, building in resilience over the next decade. So, what change do you want see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.