"The great thing about teaching young people is that they are very open to trying new food."
The Chief Executive of an Ashington charity is urging people to use their gardens to eat more healthier, save money and educate future generations in the benefits of eating greener.
Sarah Robinson runs Full Circle Food which is based in the town’s Hirst Park. The charity has a community garden where they show people how to grow vegetables to lead a healthier lifestyle. Currently the garden contains tomatoes, peas, maize, courgettes, and squash which are grown outdoors and in one of the charity’s greenhouses or tunnel tents.
As well as managing the gardens, Sarah and her team are now running cookery classes to show people how to make the best use of the vegetables that they grow, particularly for those on a tight budget.
“One of the aims of our free “Grow, Cook and Eat” classes is to get the message across that healthy food isn’t difficult to prepare and it's not expensive either as there are plenty of ways of getting fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables quite cheaply in the supermarkets. I do believe however that people sometimes struggle with knowing how to make the best use of them and that they often feel that they don't have the cooking skills or time to make the best use of the ingredients,” said Sarah. “Quite simply, what we're trying to do in our cookery classes is overcome the perception that healthy food is hard to prepare or that it's not particularly tasty.”
The latest cohort to experience the benefits of healthy eating are a group of young people who are learning about how vegetables grow and how to prepare and cook them.
“The great thing about teaching young people is that they are very open to trying new food. We get children who come along to the classes and try new foods because they're in a group environment with their friends, it’s great seeing the looks on their faces as they realise that they like new foods.” added Sarah.
Sarah is also promoting the fact that if healthy eating is started at an early age, it will carry on throughout life and that by also having basic food cooking skills it helps make the most of a limited budget.
As well as the cookery classes, Full Circle Food operate a “Community Food Larder” where families who need additional help can come along and choose the food that they need rather than being supplied with a pre-packaged bundle which could lead to more food waste. The charity relies on donations of food from “FareShare’, local supermarkets, organisations such as Northumberland Freemasons and members of the public. The Larder is open twice a week and operates without a referral system and everything is totally anonymous.
To help Sarah and her team, more than 20 volunteers give up their time to tend the gardens and help with the day-to-day tasks needed to run the charity.
“We’re always looking to expand our team of volunteers. There are many benefits to working outside as it’s not only good for your physical health but also good for mental health and wellbeing,” said Sarah.
Anyone wishing to volunteer their time or would like more information about the adult or young people’s cookery courses can email email@example.com
Photo: Full Circle staff member Esther (left) with Sarah and the latest class of young people (dwmedia)
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