At the beginning of 2020 we built the Fearn Free Food Garden on a wee bit of unused land by the side of our lane. We’re on the unnamed road behind the hotel in Fearn – the footpath to the village shop. With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis we realised that there would be a greater need for folks to have access to local food, so we quickly started to sow a lot more, and to turn over more of the main garden (behind the hedge) into veg beds.
We are able to offer free veg plants to local folks who have room to grow their own, and we are also going to do Tiny Free Veg Boxes when the first harvests come in. So far we’ve distributed 312 free veg plants and 13 salad bags to 26 people from the local area.
What’s a FREE FOOD Garden?
It’s literally a garden where we grow free food for you. We’re building it on our land, on a section that is currently overgrown (though we did grow some food on it last year), and within easy access from the lane that goes past our house. The food we grow there will be free for anyone to harvest – no need to help out, or donate, or anything like that. We’ve been planning to do this for a while but were spurred on by the 2019 election results.
When we set out the small piece of land was unkempt and had no beds. We needed to raise money to make the area productive and welcoming, and to fix the shed and provide a safe space for folks to pack up their harvest. We’d also hope buy some tools, wellies and gloves for visitors to the garden, and we needed compost, woodchips and pots. A small polytunnel to the side of the shed would allow us to grow food in all seasons, and it could also become a future teaching space as well as somewhere for us to grow more seedlings for local projects. We also need signage, flyers and advertising so folks know this resources is there for them, and we’d like to be able to provide a place to sit and have a cup of tea.
We have already raised some money, and have received some donations of goods. Folks from all over the world have donated money in exchange for hats designed and knitted by Mairi, and/or for the knitting pattern. Designed after the 2019 general elections, originally these hats said ‘FUCK THE TORIES’ on them (though we’ve also made a stripy one and a couple of ‘FUCK TRUMP’ ones). We’ve expanded this to also write people’s names and other messages on the hats.
If you’d like to donate in exchange for a hat you can send us an email to discuss details. The hats are a minimum £15, and they’re available in any combination of colours. If you’d like to buy the knitting pattern you can do so through Ravelry.
To date we have raised £980 through the sale of hats, and we’ve had additional donations from the local community totalling £104. We have also received donations of yarn, compost, wood, plant pots, and planters, as well as a generous donation of seeds from The Free Seed Company and from individuals on instagram. In addition we were awarded a community grant from North Highland Initiative for the purchase of two polytunnels and 600L of compost. We’re very grateful!