These books on growing food for your community, are ideal if you would like to be less reliant on the supermarkets. They are also great for people who live in ‘food deserts’ (where your ‘local supermarket’ may be the Spar shops selling a small selection of ready-meals). Good affordable organic food is for all, not just those who can pay at swanky farm shops.
See plants & trees to avoid near pets (avoid cocoa/pine/rubber mulch & fresh compost near pets). Use humane safe slug/snail deterrents and safer alternatives to netting for wildlife. Many plants (inc. yew & oak trees) are toxic to equines. Also see how to grow herbs.
If growing near houses or in greenhouses, keep plants away from pets (cats may knock them over). Never place plants near windows, as this confuses birds. See how to stop birds flying into windows.
- Grow Food for Free is a book by young Welsh farmer Huw Richards. He may be young but he has a head bursting with knowledge. Although this book is written more for the private grower, it has heaps of inspiration for anyone: use old wooden pallets as raised beds, borrow tools from neighbours and turn untended local patches into well-loved veg plots.
- Start a Community Food Garden is by LaManda Joy, who oversees the running of Chicago’s most successful public garden. It covers finding land and volunteers, teaching people how to garden and what to grow. If you have no local land, then consider de-paving an old car park or urban space. Courgettes are more useful than cars!
- Rooted in the Hood is the inspiring story of how people in low-income areas of New York City (with drug dealers, gangs and junkies) turned things around; by clearing empty lots, planting trees and vegetables, and creating small havens for the community.
Local Free Food Volunteering
- Incredible Edible (Yorkshire) is a volunteer army who grow herb gardens, fruit & nut trees etc, for locals to just help themselves. This can be herbs at the train station, or growing free food in schools, doctor surgeries or even trees on the street.
- Find free apples in community orchards. Sheffield’s Abundance Project has a free e-book to start a ‘scrumping project’, where volunteers pick up windfalls and apples about to fall, from trees of landowners. The scrumper and landowner each get a third, with the rest going to communities (bruised fruit is turned into juice). Also see grow your own fruit trees.
Keep fruit pips/seeds and nutmeg (often in cooked apple recipes) away from pets. A little chopped apple is usually OK for horses, but never feed strange horses as too much can cause colic. Pick up windfalls to avoid animals over-feasting. Again, rabbits are okay with small quantities of apple (not cores, seeds or stems). But one or two slices is plenty – read more on safe rabbit treats.