Incredible Edible Cloughmills takes a big step forward....

25th Apr 13, Tanya

Thanks to a funding boost Incredible Edible Cloughmills will be spreading its message across Ireland.

On Thursday, 11th April 2013. Safefood Ireland announced the recipients of funding for the Community Food Initiatives Programme 2013-15, which aims to positively influence the eating habits of families in low income communities on the island of Ireland.

The Programme aims to support community projects in promoting greater access to affordable and healthy food.  And guess what… Incredible Edible Cloughmills is one of the projects, now people across Ireland will be getting the Incredible Edible message

Speaking at the launch, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said: “These Community Food Initiatives represent excellent examples of how local communities can work together to overcome some of the problems they face in accessing healthy, affordable food. The health effects of food poverty range from difficulties in concentration and poor energy levels in children, to wellbeing issues in everyday life for adults and higher rates of diet-related chronic diseases in later life.”

“By funding community food projects that offer real and practical support for people, we can help develop lifelong skills and knowledge of healthy, nutritious food, promote positive attitudes to food and diet in the community and foster a new approach to tackling food poverty on the island.”

The CFIs will be managed at a local level by Healthy Food for All, an all-island multi-agency initiative seeking to promote healthy food for low-income groups.  Ms Marjo Moonen, Chair of Healthy Food for All, explains; “The core aim of our work is to end food poverty on the island of Ireland.  As such, it is vitally important that we help make these Community Food Initiatives work locally. We understand the common issues that these projects face and can draw on our expertise from working at policy level and from managing the Demonstration Programme of Community Food Initiatives 2010-12, from our wide network base, to assist them.  We want to use work with these Community Food Initiatives to inform future developments; creating successful and sustainable models to ensure healthy and affordable food is ultimately available to everyone.”

To help people understand a little more about Cloughmills and what we are up to, we have included a short summary here.

Background to Cloughmills

Cloughmills is a rural village of 600 households and 2500 people.  As with many areas the community has almost trebled in size with no matching increase in service provision.  Cloughmills is centrally located off the A26, 8 miles from the more urban centres of Ballymena and Ballymoney.  There is very little employment within the village itself and a resident population who largely work, learn and socialise outside of the community.  The village has suffered from some sectarian tensions but this is improving thanks to the efforts of the Cloughmills Community Action Team
Cloughmills Community Action Team (CCAT) works to improve the social, economic and environmental life of Cloughmills. The mission is to improve Cloughmills as a place to live, work and play through influencing others and securing new resources for the area. Cloughmills Community Action Team (CCAT) was established in 1999 and revitalized in 2007 to devise and implement locally managed and sustainable solutions to issues identified by the local community. CCAT manages a range of projects in Cloughmills including healthy lifestyles, biodiversity, energy efficiency, village appearance and support for local businesses.

We encourage intergenerational activities at all times and a cross-community approach through a mixture of social and practical activities. CCAT has also successfully developed the ‘Incredible Edible Cloughmills’ project which reconnects people with each other, their community and the natural world through the language of food.  This multi award winning project has attracted considerable attention to this small community, with over 400 visitors last year from a range of groups across the north and south of Ireland as well as Estonia and Finland. 

The group’s efforts have resulted in the following awards:

• Sustainable Ireland Award for Youth Engagement
• Impact 2010 Award for Youth Projects
• Calor Environmental Village of the Year 2010 & 2011
• European Week for Waste Reduction – Community Award 2011 & Judges Favourite Award 2012
• Countryside Alliance – Joint Highly Commended in the Rural Enterprise Category – finished in the top 3 across the UK

Community Food Initiative

Vision –   To reconnect people with each other, their community and the natural world by developing a sustainable, fair and healthy food system in Cloughmills. 

Everyone will know where food comes from, appreciate seasonal diversity and environmental impacts of food, be confident in cooking and celebrate the role of food in our lives.  We will improve diet related health, reduce impacts of food poverty, make our community more resilient, increase choices available to and skills within our community, maximise the impacts of every pound spent locally and develop a shared food vision. We will deliver our project under 3 headings:

Food growing skills, communal and domestic using containers and permaculture/organic techniques; ‘Foodscape’ our community-grow food in public spaces; Recruit 'Fruit and Veg' champions to support growing at home; 'Share the Surplus' - encourage and connect people with surplus produce to share; ‘pot luck suppers’ where everyone brings along a dish-we might end up with 20 desserts but so what! develop mushroom growing project as a social enterprise for young people; ‘Growing Families’ programme, whole family growing together

Baby weaning and toddler nutrition - classes for parents; 'Bake Your Lawn' in schools - growing, harvesting, milling and baking breads; Cookery classes for every 10/11 yr old in village; ‘Shared learning’ events on food skills & techniques with participants all contributing; Train & support 8 Cook It! champions, delivering sessions on cooking skills, hygiene, purchasing and portions; host reskilling  and harvest events, teaching lost skills related to food; host pizza & movie nights where all ages make their own pizzas; promote a lovefoodhatewaste campaign with community and businesses; foraging for food; healing properties of food

Totally Local campaign promoting local/seasonal produce; mystery market stall every month showcasing local produce, cooking tips; facilitate development of more food businesses; establish a food hub bringing growers, producers, retailers and consumers together to maximize the impact of local food.

No escaping the 3 spinning plates folks and the 3 plate concept was a big factor in helping us get the funding!

I know all of the above sounds dull and boring on paper but when we get people involved, watch us go!

PS the photo shows from left to right:

  1. Patrick Frew, the main man
  2. James Whitten, the finance man
  3. Georgina Buffini, Healthy Food for All
  4. Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Safefood
  5. Declan Donnelly, Ballymoney Borough Council/Incredible Edible Cloughmills