A year at the Weald Community Food Centre

The Weald Community Food Centre sits on the Weald Allotments in Hove and through a community fridge, a community kitchen and lockdown food deliveries, has brought together the local community to support each other. The following is taken from their annual report from April 2020 to April 2021.

Our mission: Anybody can put food in, anybody can take food out, no questions, no hassle, no waste.

Our year in focus

Weald Community Fridge opened on 23 March 2020 and almost immediately had to convert to a frontline food delivery system. At the height of the pandemic we were feeding 96 households a week. In 12 months we’ve made 342 supermarket collections, collected at least 12,000 kilos of food, which is over 24,000 meals, and saved more than 38,000 kg of CO2.

This winter we launched our Soup Sundays – inviting different individuals, community groups and organisations to cook and offer soup to the wider community each month. We also offered mini-allotments to all our fridge users, giving them a chance to receive seedlings, in a recycled supermarket punnet, to grow at home to increase their own wellbeing and food security.

Our volunteers

None of this would have been possible without the assistance of an amazing team of volunteers: our fridge heroes, foragers, delivery drivers and soup dragons have pulled together throughout the year to ensure that food gets from shops and plots to bags and plates.

Many anonymous allotment-holders have donated fruit, vegetables and herbs throughout the year for us to share with those in food need in our city. Notably, Plot 22 and BHOGG worked with us during the lockdown periods by offering us food that would otherwise have gone to their visitors. Once again, we’re incredibly grateful for the dedication and commitment of individuals and groups who’ve helped make this year possible.

I wanted to pass on my thanks, via you, to your volunteers and allotment holders. I made a salad with all the herbs and greenery that I would never usually have access to, and the flavours were out of this world. I am going to make a rhubarb fool. So extremely grateful.

Community Fridge visitor

Our donors and supporters

In addition to the time, dedication and effort described above, we’ve received generous donations of financial and in-kind support from individuals and organisations that have allowed us to grow from a small community fridge to a substantial frontline food project. Every week, the Cooperative shop in Hangleton, Tesco Hove and Tesco Westway and Waitrose Hove give us surplus food to share with our community fridge users – this is the bedrock of our activity, buttressed by the generosity of our allotment growers in donating fresh produce.

This year we have received money, food and equipment through funding or donations from over 15 local and national organisations, businesses and community groups totally £6760.10 of funding. This money has helped create the community kitchen, set up a blog to inform people of our progress, provide food to the local community through our food deliveries and community fridge, buy gardening equipment for community use, train our volunteers in food hygiene, hold 3 Soup Sundays, and plan community projects for the future.

In addition we’ve appeared three times on Radio Sussex, participated in a panel for the UnLtd Fair Food Forum and another for the Cooperative Society and Kay Sexton, our Volunteer Coordinator, is featured on a Brighton bus!

Thank you so much for the deliveries during lockdown. They have helped us not only financially but to feel connected and cared about. I will be visiting the community fridge as soon as lockdown is over.

Delivery recipient, now a weekly Community Fridge visitor

Our future

Much of the next year is still unclear. We plan to start our Plot to Plate project as soon as we can, and work has already begun on the Community Fridge guide which we hope will encourage other local groups to set up their own community fridge systems. The bread oven should arrive any day, and we’ll be installing it in the Memorial Garden when we’ve done the necessary risk assessments.

We have plans for small classes in preserving and fermenting to help people make the best use of fresh produce and we’ve been asked to run some craft based outdoor sessions too. Of course, most activities will depend on the easing of government restrictions, so while we have ideas, we can’t yet commit to dates and deadlines.

Your community fridge has been so helpful for me and my family who love the food and also the Sunday bag. it really helps me with my mental health as well. Children shouldn’t have to go without.

Sunday delivery recipient

You can follow our progress on our website or contact us at wealdallotments@gmail.com

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