St Albans’ organic food project has something to smile about

FoodSmiles team

FoodSmiles team - Credit: Archant

A community food-growing project that has produced more than a ton of organic vegetables is celebrating its first anniversary.

The FoodSmiles group, led by founders Tom Carman and Peter Bloomfield and a team of dedicated growers, produces and distributes weekly vegetables boxes in the St Albans district.

During its first year the collective produced 980kg of organic vegetables, including lemon cucumber and five types of French bean.

Peter said: “It started with a roughly ploughed half acre of stony, weedy land and a few partially derelict polytunnels.

He added: “We’ve had generous support from the Harpenden farmer and landowner, the city council, local councillors, businesses and personal donations.

“But success is down to good planning by our co-ordinator, Naomi Distill, and a lot of hard work and fun digging, cultivating the soil, weeding, sowing, planting, weeding again and again, watering, harvesting and packing boxes by members.”

St Albans mayor Geoff Harrison, who visited the site in Hammonds End Farm in April, said: “It’s good to see an enthusiastic group of local people working with a farmer to grow food together in the community.”

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The group contributes to the St Albans Food and Drink Festival where it jointly runs “Grow it, Cook it, Eat it”, with Transition St Albans, at the Blacksmith’s Arms.

FoodSmiles is currently crowd funding to raise money for a new polytunnel and packing shed.

Its target is £3,000 and £1,000 has already been raised.