Let’s Grow Preston: The grassroots charity feeding the city’s hungry residents

Posted on - 12th August, 2022 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Food & Drink, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News, Proud Preston, Wildlife and Conservation
Let's Grow Preston's Ashton Walled Garden
Let’s Grow Preston’s Ashton Walled Garden

A local charity that helps delivers food to hungry residents across the city has continued its vital work delivering fresh vegetables to Preston food hubs.

Since 2018, Let’s Grow Preston has collected surplus food grown in Preston allotments, working with Preston City Council to support communities and deliver food to ‘Holiday Hunger’ markets, with the initial 25 sites expanding to 52 by 2019.

In 2020, the charity anticipated ‘a food crisis as they had never seen before’ and continued to employ staff and grow ‘as much food as possible’, despite preventing volunteers from working in its community gardens during the pandemic.

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A recent Let’s Grow Preston collection – 100kg of fresh vegetables from local allotments. Pic: Councillor Nweeda Khan

Annie Wynn BEM, the development director at Let’s Grow Preston, said: “We always knew that many ‘allotmenteers’ are lucky enough to be able to grow more than they need and more than they can store.

“We were delighted that Preston City Council helped grassroots communities create holiday hunger markets.

“We contacted the council to let them know what we were doing, and we ensured that they knew our van was available for distributing food.”

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Let's Grow Preston's Ashton Walled Garden
Let’s Grow Preston’s Ashton Walled Garden

The charity said Preston City Council contacted local grassroots organisations to find out how they could help.

Annie said: “The result has been a strong, informative and collaborative network of food hubs across the city supporting the communities they know so well.”

Thanks to Let’s Grow Preston’s work, alongside the efforts of Fareshare and local food hubs – who supported around 1,400 families weekly between April and September 2020 – the total output reached 570,000 meals.

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One of Let's Grow Preston's gardens
One of Let’s Grow Preston’s gardens

Various organisations used the charity’s van up to eight times a week to collect and deliver food from Fareshare and other providers and to obtain surplus food from the allotments.

The charity continued to collect food on behalf of three organisations throughout the year, gathering surplus food from the allotments from mid-July until September.

Let’s Grow Preston soon learned about an online tool and database known as Harvestometer, which allowed the charity to log each collection and tally the financial value and the equivalent in meals that the surplus food provides.

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Last year, they logged each collection from the eight Preston allotment sites, and the tool stated that the value of the vegetables collected reached £4,793.19, with a total weight of 708.69kg.

They started collecting again in mid-July, accumulating a £911.71 value, with a weight of 191kg, equating to around 2,390 meals, and they will continue until mid-September.

Annie said: “What we would say is a huge thank you to the allotmenteers of Preston, and thanks to the food hubs.

“We know the food is not wasted and passed onto families and individuals who need assistance.

“We need volunteers to help us collect the food and sort it on Monday mornings, and we are always pleased to meet volunteers willing to help drive the van to collect and deliver food on Tuesday mornings.”

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Annie said the charity is ‘delighted’ they have made such a ‘significant difference’ to Preston residents by helping to improve and maintain open spaces and community gardens and improving mental and physical well-being through volunteering activities.

Let’s Grow Preston receives some of its funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which will cover 75 per cent of its core staff in 2023.

Other donors include Fishwick and St Matthew’s Big Local Partnership and Preston City Council.

Their funding has promoted ‘growing your own’ in the city and staffing in the Waverly park community garden, with the Interpretation Centre at Grange Park set to open soon.

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Annie said: “But the funding only goes towards staff costs, as we self-fund many of our projects and activities through selling plants and providing training and workshops.

“Our trusted mechanic who services our van warned us that it won’t pass its MOT next year, so we are looking to raise around £8,000 for a secondhand van.

“Sponsorship would be fantastic, as the van is our workhorse and has proven to be valuable to the food hubs and other local groups who have been able to use it.

“Without the van, we wouldn’t have been able to collect tables and chairs donated to us by Recycling Lives, which we’ve used in the Interpretation Centre at Grange Park.”

To donate to Let’s Grow Preston, visit –

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What are your thoughts on Let’s Grow Preston’s work? Let us know in the comments below.

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