Doortraits: Lockdown stories of my neighbours & community. I e-met Ryan on Facebook through my Berkshire Creatives Community Facebook group. He was looking for spare tomato plants.
Ryan and 2 friends were drinking in a pub one night and had the dream that Hollywood films are made of. The ‘Field Of Dreams’ idea. ‘Build it and they will come’. And they do, from all over. Ryan’s energy and the passion in which he talks about his ambition to provide is so infectious that naturally people are drawn to their project.
Here is Ryan’s Lockdown story in his words.
For a long time I have wondered why there wasn’t more fruit available growing within our communities for everyone to forage when walking the dogs or the kids to school and get from free healthy snacks for everyone to enjoy. So just before lockdown I mentioned this idea to two friends in a pub on sunday afternoon, who both loved the idea and jumped onboard with the vision of making our community more fruity!
4 months later, our idea has become a reality. We are now a registered charity called Freely Fruity, with the trustees being myself, Matt Knight and James Whittingham. I was furloughed from my design job for 3 weeks to help the project get started and worked on the branding, our ethos and what we could really do to grow this idea. So then came along Covid, which quickly changed the world, which meant we couldn’t really start to think about the community projects, but actually what could we do immediately to help the people who really need it now.
Back in late march we started our own allotment from land donated to us for a period of time from Hatch Farm Ltd. We started small with potato, veg and strawberries beds. It was clear it wasn’t going to be enough and with the help of the community and growing our own plants from seeds, we have now managed to grow and build larger enclosures to home over 600 tomato plants, 400 strawberry plants, 80 raspberry plants, hundreds of peppers, brassicas, courgettes and loads of other vegetables to grow fresh organic produce for the food banks.
I really do have to say a massive thank you to the Wroxton Group Ltd who helped us massively with the donation of the timber and helped us prepare the ground of our biggest bed that we named ‘Big Gertha’. Its great we can provide fresh produce for food banks around our area as most food banks have surplus amounts of tinned food, high carbs and sugary treats but not as much fresh healthy produce that we are now growing and donating.
The lockdown has seen a massive rise in ‘Growing your own’ which is fantastic for our future. If we can educate the younger generations the values of growing their own then they will really get the sense of achievement and appreciation of healthy food. The mass of food that is thrown away each day is staggering, and what deemed not to be ‘attractive’ enough for the supermarkets is just unacceptable. We can really start to make a change in the way we see food, which at the end of the day is money. It would be fantastic for local councils and the government to start to replacing planting trees with fruit trees, then we could make our planet much more sustainable with reducing our carbon emissions.
Also it would be great if all new housing developments were made to include a community growing space by law, and including more fruit trees within these spaces, and even the option of individual growing spaces into each new garden. I also the love the idea of ‘Foodscaping’ which is where homes are growing specific fruits and veg and swap produce with their neighbours. its also really brings the sense of community and caring for each other.
You never know, one day we won’t have to see fruit being imported thousands of miles with a massive carbon footprint to trail it. That’s fruitful thinking! 🙂 So it’s a start of our journey, and just proves what ‘us’ men came come up with when we go to the pub! 🙂 Freely Fruity – The world is our orchard.