A charity has joined forces with a social enterprise to teach people with neurological conditions to grow sustainable food – and hopes to become the first UK charity to have its own edible wall.
The Brain Charity has launched a £15,000 Crowdfunder appeal to enable its pioneering project to go ahead to provide its service users with mental health and environmental benefits.
The charity has struck up a partnership with Farm Urban, a social enterprise in Liverpool to teach hundreds of people how to grow healthy, sustainable food using hydroponics, a vertical, soil-less and pesticide-free method of farming.
It is hoped the Crowdfunder appeal will raise enough money to deliver initial workshops, create an Edible Wall educational programme and install and maintain the living wall at the charity’s HQ. It also aims to provide free, healthy food for The Brain Food Café.
Tui Benjamin, head of communications and fundraising at The Brain Charity, said: “Many of our service users live on or below the poverty line, with 31 per cent saying they have barely enough money to live on despite receiving welfare benefits. Social isolation is also a huge issue, with more than half telling us they regularly feel lonely.
“We therefore hope this pioneering project, the first of its kind in the UK, will not only allow us to significantly improve the mental health of some of our most vulnerable service users – after all, taking care of plants is a known mood booster – but help them make more healthy food choices, learn new skills, make friends and do their bit for the planet too.
“The Edible Wall is an incredible opportunity to empower our service users – a community so often marginalised – to know they can contribute to a better, healthier future; for themselves and for the planet.”
Hydroponics uses energy-efficient LED lights and circulating water to grow leafy greens and herbs all year round, regardless of weather conditions.
The indoor farming technique was recently featured in the Netflix documentary David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet as a key component of the battle against climate change.
Dr Paul Myers, managing director of Farm Urban, said: “Partnering with The Brain Charity will allow us the opportunity to share our food revolution with a wider audience than ever before.
“The Brain Charity pilot will be used to develop an educational programme around accessible, indoor food growing which will be shared with communities across the UK and beyond.
“We hope this will lay the groundwork for bringing an innovative approach to urban farming to groups all over the world.”
The Crowdfunder appeal will open to Aviva employees next week, as part of the Aviva Community Fund, who are given £250,000 in total each quarter to distribute to projects as they see fit.
Acre love to hear about innovative sustainability projects, and budding social enterprises. If you'd like to talk to us about how we can support you to drive change by expanding your team with the right people, get in touch with us here.