The Foodshare Story

Foodshare is a leading national food, gardening and educational charity whose aim is to inspire a new generation of “Food Philanthropists”.

Our primary focus is working with schools, allotments and charities that feed people. There are currently over 7,500 school children who are “Growing to Give” – creating Foodshare beds to grow and donate fresh, local produce to charities within their community. Through Foodshare we hope to educate children about the real value of food and help inspire lifelong passions for growing and support within the community.

Over 200 Foodshare charities, from homeless shelters to hospices, care homes to community food relief projects, including organisations such as Marie Curie, are partnering with schools and allotments. One example, Milton Primary School, donated over £500 of produce to the local children’s hospice in 2010 with just £5 worth of seeds.

We run many initiatives such as our “Harvest Heroes” programme which enables every child to grow a Foodshare plant to seedling in the classroom to later bring home and nurture with their families until harvest. A increasing number of Foodshare allotments are also diverting surplus produce to charity kitchens, donating thousands of pounds of healthy produce to those that can benefit the most.

Foodshare originally started when recording artist Mark Desvaux and Cambridge entrepreneur Dan Spencer were one day trying to exchange surplus courgettes with other allotment holders, only to find that everyone had courgettes coming out of their ears.

With one phone call to the local Children’s Hospice, they discovered a very grateful recipient. A “Donation Station” was set up on the allotment for others to donate their surplus fruit and veg and within three months over £1,000 of fresh produce was collected.

Dan and Mark put the Foodshare model up on the Internet to encourage others to start their own Foodshare groups. Within a few weeks groups across the UK and around the world from New Zealand to New York were popping up.

The rest, as they say, is history!

To become a Foodshare School or Foodshare Allotment, enter your postcode on the right and sign up today.

If you are interested in volunteering with Foodshare, please get in touch


FOODSHARE TIMELINE – THE STORY SO FAR

Jul to August 2009

• Foodshare launches on the allotment in Milton, a small village north of Cambridge. Over £1,000 of produce donated to the Milton Children’s Hospice.

Sept to Dec 2009

• Foodshare web site launches (www.foodshare.co.uk). Allotments in the UK and around the world (from New York to New Zealand) sign up.

• BBC1 Breakfast TV runs multiple features on Foodshare.

• Foodshare is the main headline on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire news.

• Media coverage grows with lots of local and regional newspapers picking up the story.

• Over four hours of radio interviews and features.

• Foodshare invited to exhibit at the Cambridge Garden and Produce festival. More “Foodsharers” sign up.

• Talks with the local Primary School begin about a school Foodshare scheme.

• The local church launches the UK’s first Foodshare scheme for churches, where parishioners collect and deliver surplus produce from neighbours to a local charity.

• The winners of the Milton Village vegetable show decide to collectively donate their prize-winning vegetables to the Milton Children’s Hospice.

• Cambridge University invites Foodshare to a brainstorming day with top PhD and Masters students.

Jan 2010

• Over 100 charities sign up in seven days to become Foodshare recipients. Everyone from homeless shelters to care home (including Marie Curie), from Hospices to food outreach programmes sign up. Homeless Link, the national body overseeing Homeless Shelters in the UK, endorses the project.

• Foodshare set up a formal committee and form a constitution.

• “Growing to Give Launches”. The RHS endorses the project with plans to promote to their 10,000 schools.

• The National Society for Allotments and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) endorse the project, promoting to their 100,000 members.

Feb 2010

• An audience of 2.5m hear about Foodshare on Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time (the UK’s most popular radio show) with overwhelming endorsement from the expert panel.

• The RHS Schools for Gardening Programme, promote Foodshare to its members.

• Over twenty seven schools (5,000 primary school children) immediately sign up to the Foodshare “Growing to Give” project, creating a Foodshare bed at their school allotment to grow directly for a local charity.

• More endorsement from wonderful people including Bob Flowerdew, Penney Poyzer, Anne Swithinbank, Eric Robson, Matthew Wilson & Brigit Strawbridge.

March 2010

• Milton Primary School, pilots the Foodshare “Harvest Heroes” project, with every child in the school nurturing their own plant from seed to seedling in the classroom, and then taking it home to continue growing with their families. Fifty percent of the harvest is donated to the local Foodshare charity, whilst the other half is enjoyed by the family. For many will be the first produce they have grown at home.

• Local Allotment starts donating surplus seeds to the school gardening club.

• The school “Growing to Give” project starts to branch out to Kitchen Gardeners who cut up lawn to create a dedicated Foodshare bed.

• Maggi Smith, who set up the first ever school’s gardening initiative – Garden Organic for Schools (6,000 schools) – joins the Foodshare Advisory Team.

April 2010

• Garden Organic (formerly Henry Doubleday Research Association) partner with Foodshare to integrate into the Schools programme which reaches 6,000 schools.

• First ever Foodshare assembly as primary school children get excited about Growing to Give

• Rob Hopkins of Transition Town hears about Foodshare.

• Foodshare becomes a national member of Sustain’s “Food Growing in Every School” campaign.

May 2010

• Foodshare gets a dedicated hour on BBC Radio Eastern Counties (12th May, 9pm)

• Foodshare in the classroom! School talks on the importance of growing, sharing and bees.

• Foodshare talk with local Transition Town groups about how to work together.

• Big article on Foodshare in the National Society of Allotments & Leisure Gardener’s magazine (100,000 members)

• Foodshare starts looking for sponsors to fund the project.

• Milton Primary School win “Head of Site” award at the “Chelsea Flower Show for Schools” for their Foodshare “Growing to Give” bed. (RHS Budding Gardener’s Competition).

June 2010

• Writer and BBC broadcaster Penney Poyzer is Foodshare’s first Patron (“100 Woman Who Changed The World” The Independent”)

• Foodshare invited to join Sustain’s “Campaign for Food Growing in Schools” along with the RHS, Garden Organic and other national bodies.

• Foodshare is the lead feature article in ‘Grow Your Own’ magazine.

• ITV broadcast feature on “Growing to Give” – Milton Primary School and the Children’s Hospice.

July 2010

• Works starts on a Foodshare plan to help reduce Allotment Waiting Lists

• Foodshare scheme continues to grow as with new members signing up daily.

August 2010

• First monetary donations received as Foodshare starts a funding drive

• Foodshare featured on BBC web site.

October 2010

• The first Foodshare Harvest Festivals celebrated at a number of schools and churches.

October 2010

• Development of Foodshare Ambassador Programme commences.

December 2010

• “Every Food A Food Growing School” white paper presented to the government, including a Foodshare case study. Campaign receives high profile support including Alan Titchmarsh, Chris Collins (Blue Peter), Zak Goldsmith and Rosie Boycott.

December 2010

• Foodshare, as part of the “Every Food A Food Growing School” coalition meet with the government department Defra in Westminster to discuss food growing in schools
• Foodshare set up the “Food Growing in Schools” Facebook group.

February 2011

• Exciting new projects in development including Foodshare “Grow – Cook – Share” Days.

March 2011

• Foodshare fundraising continues with successful School Seed sales.

April 2011

• Brand new Foodshare web site in development.

May 2011

• Exciting new resources and schools in development for the new growing season.
• Foodshare Chairman Mark Desvaux on Five Live and BBC Eastern Counties talking about Foodshare.

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