Bountiful Bristol: “I believe allotments could play a big part in food system change.”

Allotment produce in a basket

Our latest blog post is from Bristol citizen Annabel Hosford. Inspired by a Bristol Bites Back Better story by another Bristol resident, Dominic Knight, Annabel is now determined to connect up allotmenteers to share their bountiful harvests with community food projects. Find out how you can get involved in the Bountiful Bristol project.

Imagine every neighbourhood in Bristol with access to nutritious, affordable fruit and vegetables; produce that has been grown in that neighbourhood; patches of land used for sharing skills and knowledge about how to grow our own food; a local food system that doesn’t rely on produce being flown across the world from farming systems that rely on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and fossil fuels. I believe allotments could play a big part in food system change.

We produce enough food to feed the entire population.  However, due to a broken food system (amongst other major factors), food poverty is at a tragic level across the globe. In the UK alone, 8% of the population (5.4 million people) did not have enough healthy, nutritional food in 2019-2020.

We all saw over lockdown how unstable our current food system and supply chains are, when supermarket shelves were emptied. This is only getting worse as intensive farming systems across the globe are becoming unable to cope with the effects of climate change. This global food system isn’t working (and that’s not to mention the detriment it is having on our environment through the reliance on airfreight and fossil fuels and de-generation of the land and biodiversity loss.)

I grew up on a family farm, which has given me an appreciation and understanding of the food we eat and the land it’s grown on. I’m on a mission to give more people the chance to get back on to the land, to learn how our food is produced, and to increase access to healthy, organic, nutritious fruit and veg. While living in Bristol, I’ve been working for some fantastic food projects and it has struck me how access to this produce is not available in many areas of the city, yet the demand and need for it is so high.

I was lucky to get an allotment in 2020 when I moved into a house-share that already had one. The allotment community in Bristol is huge – I think there are over 4000 allotments! If you have an allotment, you’ll know that we all have bountiful harvests due to always planting too much of everything – think courgette gluts! You’ll also know just how amazing a home-grown cucumber tastes (far from anything you buy in a supermarket!). Everyone should have the right to eat a REAL cucumber.

After reading the blog that Dominic Knight wrote in 2020 (Dominic, let’s join forces!), it spurred me on to do something about it. If we allotmenteers could come together to share our bountiful harvests with community food projects, think how many mouths that would feed!

Many of you allotmenteers will already share your harvests with family and friends I’m sure, so this project will make it easier for you to share it further with those experiencing food insecurity.

And so, ‘Bountiful Bristol’ is born… a citywide project connecting up allotments with community food initiatives in their area. My plan is to start small, this growing season focusing on the Brislington area and next year expanding to other areas with a high need. But if anyone else is keen to get this going elsewhere, then we could team up. Who knows, by 2025 we may have the whole city involved!

We have kindly got support from Feeding Bristol, Avon Gleaning Network and Crop Drop – the Bath equivalent, who successfully set up in 2020 and last year alone achieved 156 ‘drops’ across Bath and North East Somerset.

So… I am on the look-out for others who’d like to play a part in this project in any way:

  • You may have a car, a cargo bike or some strong arms that you’d be happy using to transport fruit and veg.
  • You may have an allotment and love the idea of donating and sharing your bountiful harvest(s) further than family and friends with a local food project, community kitchen, or nursery school for children to explore, learn and cook with.
  • You may run a food project and are in need of fresh, local, lovingly-made produce.
  • You may have skills in admin, community engagement, or just a lot of energy and want to join our core-team in the coordination and force behind the project.
  • Or maybe you just have some ideas you’d like to share.

Whatever it is, please get in touch with me, Annabel, at bountifulbris@gmail.com.

Let’s get the city growing and sharing good food together!

If you would like an allotment, Bristol City Council’s online Allotments Finder will show you where there are vacant plots, and how many people there might be on each waiting list.

Read more about Avon Gleaning Network on this blog – we hear from Coordinator Samantha Williamson about her motivations for gleaning and her aim to get more children and young people involved. Samantha is looking to connect with more farms, volunteers and food projects, so get in touch if you would like to help.

Our Partners & Sponsors