Somerset Stories: The Food Forest Project

The Food Forest Project acquires parcels of disused land, and with the help of local communities, seeks to combat issues such as social isolation, food poverty, habitat depletion and accessibility of locally sourced healthy food, by planting food forests.

We spoke to Tristan Faith, Founder of The Food Forest Project who told us how, with help from a £2,000 grant from The Somerset Fund, he’s been able to progress the space for growing food for the local food bank. 

“The demographic that we aim to support with the market garden are young and low-income households who have found themselves in a situation where they are unable to afford the cost of food.

We knew there were people living in our local area who were using food banks and struggling to feed their families, and we wanted to set up a dignified system where they could join a community, or discretely access the food they require to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Many landowners want to see their land used for alternative things, but some lack the time and resources to reach out into their communities to seek initiatives. We were able to bridge that gap, and access land and landowners that were happy for us to open up their land and offer something inclusive to the community.

We know the foodbanks don’t tend to get donations of fresh and healthy produce, and a well-rounded diet is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Healthy, organic food is expensive. There’s a whole swathe of society for whom it’s just not accessible and we want to address that issue by ensuring that it is accessible for everybody, irrespective of wealth and class.

Cheaper food is often ultra-processed, which has become a big issue, particularly for children. Studies show us that food that is high in additives, salt, fat and sugar has a negative impact on children; a poor diet is linked to problems with concentration in schools, ADHD, mental health and obesity. Unfortunately, it’s this food which is also affordable.

We want to make sure healthy wholefoods are getting to the people who need it most. The Somerset Fund grant was put towards maximising the use of one of our food forests in Shepton Mallet. We’ve set up our permaculture market garden which grows sustainably produced, organic food which we give to our local foodbank, The Salvation Army.”

23 August 2022


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