Supporting communities to be more self-efficient with the Acorn Farm Project  

Foundation News

Supporting communities to be more self-efficient with the Acorn Farm Project  

12 Dec 2022

The Acorn Farm, I Can Grow project is calling for 200 families in Derry/Londonderry and Strabane to roll up their sleeves and get planting. No experience is needed!

The hands-on growing programme supports families and households to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home in their yards or gardens. Families will be provided with everything they need to grow food at home, including being supported by horticultural experts from The Conservation Volunteers.

The Acorn Farm, I Can Grow programme, is an environmental project led by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. It is delivered in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, The Conservation Volunteers, Derry Healthy Cities and Social Farms and Gardens NI.  The food growing programme is one element of a larger five-year project which involves a range of community initiatives and the capital build of a new Acorn Farm at St Columb’s Park funded by the UK Levelling Up Fund.


Register your interest here.

It is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund – designed to help communities living throughout the UK reduce their carbon footprint.

The Acorn Farm’s development phase supported 260 families to grow their own vegetables over an 18-month period 2020-2022. Those involved in this new phases are encouraged to take up tools and learn the basics of food production at home which, in the longer term, will assist in the creation of a more sustainable food system throughout the city.

Shauna Kelpie, Community Foundation, NI commented;  
“Sustainable food production has never been more important in terms of boosting local food supplies, reducing food miles and our carbon footprint. The I Can Grow project has already kick-started a strong growing movement within city, helping families become more self-sufficient while also bringing lots of health and economic benefits. We encourage everyone, no experience is needed, to get involved and try something new.”

Developing Healthy Communities Chief Executive Edel O’Doherty says: 
“I Can Grow is a fantastic opportunity for individuals to come together and cultivate their own fresh produce. Not only does this provide numerous health benefits, such as access to nutritious food and the opportunity for regular physical activity, but it also allows for a stronger sense of community and social connection. Even the act of growing itself can provide a sense of calm, reduce stress, and improve mood. We are excited to see the positive impact this programme will have on the health and wellbeing of our community.”

Conor O’Kane , Growing Resilience Project Officer with Social Farms and Gardens NI says: 
Acorn Farm’s  “I Can Grow” project is a brilliant way for families to take their first step on the ladder to growing more fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense food at home; with plug plants, a growing bed and peat-free compost supplied, and expert horticultural advice on tap, it’s a great way to get your family growing together, cutting emissions and improving local biodiversity.

Kate Beggs, Director of The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland, said: 
“We are delighted that National Lottery funding is supporting I Can Grow, a project that offers many benefits to everyone who gets involved.
“This project, funded through our Climate Action Fund, is a great opportunity for people to come together to learn about food growing, sustainability and how this goes towards reducing our carbon footprint. And it’s also a great way to be physically active.
“Each week, thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised for good causes like this and we look forward to hearing of the positive changes that this will undoubtedly make to the lives of those involved.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy said;  
“The I Can Grow project is an important element of the Acorn Farm initiative. I am delighted to hear that the I Can Grow programme will support up to 200 families and households in this Council area to grow food at home with support from The Community Volunteers horticulturalist. This will bring communities together to tackle food sustainability in the city and district and encourage more people to take climate action through better food choices and sharing learning to change behaviours. I am delighted that more families will be able to grow their own healthy, home-grown food and make a positive impact on reducing our carbon footprint, and I look forward to seeing more people across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area getting involved and growing together.”



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