Audacious Veg is a social enterprise based in East London growing a better food system through our take on 'audacious veg' and increasing access into horticulture and land-based industries for young people in urban environments.
What will your support help us do?
Your support helps us work towards our visions of a better food system:
- Pay for new tools. Each new tool be it a shovel, a spade or fork, costs us between £15-£25. We plan to work with 5-6 trainees at a time, and we need to heavily invest in new tools to allow that to happen. Tallying up everything we need, we're looking at a £1200 outlay.
- Invest in clothing for trainees. The Great British weather often throws an array of weather at us, one minute it rains, the next its hot. Good waterproof clothing is expensive and often a barrier and we want to remove that barrier to ensure our trainees work in comfort. Our outlay to invest in waterproof coats and trousers are £200.
- Trainee travel expenses - let's face it, travelling in London can be expensive, and we don't want this to be a barrier for anyone. We offer trainees a travel budget for the duration of their time with us. This comes from our core revenue which also pays for staff time, equipment. Any donations made through our crowdfunder not used on tools will go into our trainee travel pot. We aim to work with 25 people this year, with a budget of approximately £5 over 36 weeks of the year, that's approximately £900.
So let's set the scene...Here's everything you need to know...
First stop, what does 'audacious veg' actually mean?
Audacious - to be daring; to be marked by originality
Veg- all edible plant matter
So if audacious means daring, and veg means all edible plant matter, that gives us a huge playing field to explore what food means and what it could be, and to us, it's diverse, vibrant, colourful, exciting!
Okay, you grow food...What else is there to know?
Access to land is an ever-increasing issue, especially in urban environments and within the food growing sector as a whole. Audacious Veg secured 0.75acres of derelict land in 2014 and has since regenerated a portion of that land and trialed three traineeships models in it’s first two and a half years. Along with land access issues, access to good food, produced in agroecological and organic methods, that is affordable, is an ever growing issue, and that's what led us to thinking about food differently, exploring new foods and passing on our knowledge through traineeships and workshops to encourage people to get growing.
During our first three years we realised our model wasn't robust and we weren't 'secure', and to ensure the longevity of our project we needed to make some radical decisions, and so we did. In early 2018 we decided to stop and start again. Taking everything we learnt, we rebuilt ourselves, with a new team, a new vision and a new direction.
Over the year we have worked voluntarily implementing new changes to the site, such as creating new growing spaces and growing plans, developing online technological solutions to enhance efficiency and transparency around our processes, trialing new produce, building up a customer base and redeveloping our traineeship programme. Now we're ready to put our vision of a better food system to work and that's where we need your help.
What's this 'better food system' then?
We’re driven by three goals which underpin our ground up approach; growing, diversifying and sustaining. We want to create a food system that not only provides nourishing, healthy and affordable food, that doesn’t come at a negative environmental, social or economic cost, but a food system that creates opportunities. Opportunities to learn new skills and unlock untapped potential, opportunities to try something new, be it new foods or new ways of doing something, and opportunities that are embedded in the long-term and not for quick, short gains.
Growing means not only growing high quality produce in an agroecologically responsible way, but it means to grow people by offering opportunities to learn new skills and grow as an individual. Our 2019 traineeship programme will not only look towards developing horticultural skills, but also entrepreneurial and business skills. We want to explore how we can support trainees in several ways by providing them with a safe space, tools and materials to trial land or produce based business ideas they may have.
Our plans are to run two programmes:
- A one day a week, 6 week programme on horticulture and plant growing skills
- A one day a week, 12 week programme covering horticulture, business skills and exploring the way we use our resources. We'll be delving into what we can do with plants in a 'grow and make' series of workshops that showcase how versatile plants are and the huge amounts of potential there is to make a living within land and produce based industries
As well as our traineeships we'll be continuing our mobile gardening workshops offering that we trailed this year. We've worked with over 700 children throughout the year, decorating plant pots, creating soil mixtures from scratch and sowing a range of unusual flowers, vegetables and salad greens in fun, interactive and creative workshops. In 2019, we want to scale up the amount of workshops we do and continue sharing our passion for growing with people and to do that, we need to invest in materials.
All around us in the natural world is diversity, however, the food system we're creating is about standardisation and eliminating variety often in the name of higher yields and efficiency. We're surrounded by monocultures and a handful of varieties and strains. But out there is a host of unique and wonderful plants, for instance, there are number of varieties of strawberries; white ones, ones that taste like pineapple, yet we only ever see the same two or three varieties. To us, this isn't diverse and in turn, isn't resilient. Diversity is about creating a robust and resilient system and we want to introduce people to new flavours, new foods and explore what food is, and what it could be!
Sustaining is all about creating a system that operates within environmentally sustainable limits but also provides basic human needs for nutrition, employment, health and more. To be sustainable we need to work environmentally, socially and economically and that's what we're working towards. We want to create an organisation that pays a fair wage and provides secure work for the growers and trainers involved, an organisation that doesn't destruct our natural resources but enhances and supports them, and an organisation that supports people, transfers knowledge and helps to create a new generation of land workers.
Any contributions you make will be used to help us get our traineeships up and running again, and help us with the much needed funds to make sure that we can provide an exceptional training experience for anyone that comes and spends time with us. Throughout 2018 we've done a lot of voluntary work restructuring our site to help us run our traineeship programme and production line better. In 2019 our aim is to continue growing and using produce sales to pay towards grower and trainer time, and your investment in us will allow us to invest in the materials we need to make our vision a reality.