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Barefoot Kitchen Plot to plate projects for people, places and the planet

Barefoot Kitchen is a social enterprise that works at a grassroots level to create regenerative and resilient communities in the Tees Valley through food growing, cooking and sharing initiatives – from plot to plate. It seeks to build on this work by creating a new community growing site for local people in Middlesbrough.

Barefoot Kitchen provides support and expertise on a range of projects, from redistributing surplus food or turning an unloved garden into a productive space for food growing, to leading wild food walks and working with local communities to improve their surroundings. All of its work aims to help Middlesbrough’s communities become resilient to food access, affordability, and quality challenges arising from climate change, health crises, poverty and discrimination – to be food resilient.

Middlesbrough is one of the twenty most deprived authorities in England, with 40% of children living in poverty and since the March 2020 lockdown, 50% of children receiving Free School Meals reported a significant drop in their intake of fruit and vegetables.

Operating at a grassroots level, the Fig Alleys is a new community ‘plot to plate’ site, situated in the western fringe of Middlesbrough in the Ayresome ward. The Fig Alleys site area has a long history of food growing and until the 1990s, included a large allotment site known locally as ‘The Pig Alleys.’ This has now been removed and the Fig Alleys project aims to restore some of the opportunities and community spirit that the original site provided for local people.

The Foundation provided support towards the items and equipment needed for the new site, including a wooden greenhouse, irrigation system, groundworks and crop protection.

Key aims of the project include:

  • Providing fresh fruit and vegetables to local households to improve food resilience;
  • Providing opportunities for local people to learn about and engage with food, including growing, cooking and sharing, whilst demonstrating ideas they can replicate at home;
  • Supporting the physical and mental well being of people visiting the Fig Alleys and creating a community network.