Get involved in The Big Dig

by Rose Crompton

The Big Dig - Capital Growth Team Day 1 credit: Capital Growth

City dwellers across the country are being encouraged to get involved in community food-growing projects as part of a new campaign organised by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

The Big Dig is hoping to recruit more than10,000 volunteers for community plots in six UK cities between now and September 2013.

A series of open days and events are being organised at growing spaces in Brighton, Coventry, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Sheffield and London to encourage 5,000 people, particularly those from deprived communities, to become regular volunteers. The project is hoping to recruit a further 5,000 volunteers from business and work with schools.

In September, the public will be able to visit plots across the six cities on a special open day and then on a Big Dig day in March, they will be encouraged to help out at their local space. There will also be locally-organised events, training and advice sessions taking place. It’s hoped that a further 13,000 people will take part in these activities.

Already looking forward to getting stuck in is Manchester Big Dig volunteer Leah Sapin. “I feel it’s really important that we start to grow more food locally and in a way that looks after the environment, but I also want to get more in contact with my local community,” explains Sapin. “I hope organic food will be grown all over Greater Manchester, supplying community cafés and veg vans, and that I’ll learn how to grow great veggies!”

The project has been inspired by the success of Capital Growth, a campaign to create 2,012 new community food-growing spaces in London by the end of the year, also run by Sustain, and has secured funding from the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund.

Ben Reynolds, Network Director at Sustain said, “We were thrilled to receive funding from the Social Action Fund to support the Big Dig. We can now work with other towns and cities to encourage volunteering at community food-growing spaces.”

As well as working with established community food gardens, the Big Dig will also help to develop new plots.

For more information on The Big Dig and what’s happening in your city and when, follow them on twitter @thebigdiguk or visit



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