The Covid-19 lockdown created many challenges for third sector organisations across Scotland and our members have responded strongly and admirably to the crisis.  Despite facing an almost overnight loss of trading income many community reuse and recycling organisations have been pivoting their efforts to support those in their communities who were isolated or were particularly vulnerable during the lockdown.

In this series of Lockdown Conversations, our CEO, Michael Cook, speaks to some CRNS members about how they have been supporting their communities through this difficult time.

In this, our last video, Michael talks with Julie Ryan from Forth Environment Link about how their “Veg your Ledge” scheme has helped people grow food from home during lockdown, which has numerous mental health and environmental benefits.

Introduction to Forth Environment Link

Forth Environment Link (FEL) are an active environmental and community charity working across the Forth Valley in the central belt of Scotland.  They run projects including Active Travel, Food and Growing, Reuse and Repair and Youth Engagement.

How did you respond to the needs of your community?

When lockdown hit, much of FEL’s normal activity had to end or be quickly adapted.   Whilst the local authority was doing quite a lot of work to help with emergency food provision, Forth Environment Link decided to help further.  The particular focus of the Veg your Ledge scheme was to focus on those who didn’t have direct access to a green space or garden to grow food and make it possible for them to grow some food at home.  This made the health and mental health benefits of growing your own food available to those who might not otherwise experience these benefits.

Working with over 25 community organisations 232 Veg your Ledge kits have been distributed to families and individuals across the region.

What have been the benefits for this project

Julie believes that the project has demonstrated the real appetite for hyper-localised food systems and community growing.  This has resulted in a reduction in food miles and single use plastics.  Another impact is the clear mental health benefits for people growing the food and feeling more connected to the food that they eat.

What would you ask of policy makers?

Julie commented how different parts of government often have different policies tackling specific areas (health, the environment or the economy for example), Julie is calling for policies that link all these different areas together.

At CRNS we believe in the interrelated nature of sustainability – care for people, planet, place and pounds.