Clacks Highlights How It Is Becoming A Sustainable Food Place

Dec 11, 2023

Clacks Good Food is showcasing three thriving sustainable food projects in the Wee County, in a bid to inspire more local businesses and organisations to adopt its Good Food Charter.

The charter, funded by Sustainable Food Places, puts forward an inspiring vision for the local food landscape where food in Clackmannanshire is good for people, planet and place.

Among the commendable projects being highlighted are Menstrie Community Gardens, Hawkhill Community Shop and Sauchie Active8.

Project Coordinator Stuart Guzinski said: “We believe that everyone has the right to enjoy good food and there are some amazing local initiatives already running in Clacks dedicated to making affordable, nutritious food and cooking skills accessible to everyone.

“From Menstrie Community Gardens to Hawkhill Community Shop and Sauchie Active8, these inspiring projects demonstrate the positive impact that can be achieved through a collective commitment to responsible food practices.

“We hope that by recognising and championing these local success stories, that we can inspire other groups and individuals to sign up to our charter and become part of a healthier and more resilient Clackmannanshire where people are not only sharing good food, but skills and sustainable food practices too.”

The charter outlines ways community groups and individuals can make a difference; from sourcing food from local producers and redistributing surplus food, to collaborating on food trails and committing to sustainable food practices.

Local examples of the charter’s principles in action include:

MENSTRIE COMMUNITY GARDENS – GROWING TOGETHER

What was once a neglected piece of waste ground, is now a vibrant and flourishing community garden with a dedicated team of gardening volunteers.

Volunteer Les Sharp said: “We’ve been on a remarkable journey over the past 20 years.

“When we first started this was derelict land which formed part of the drying greens’ for flats within Menstrie Castle estate.

“The community took over responsibility for the area and established the gardens, with most of the wood and soil coming from the old Council nursery at Glenochil Nursery.

“There is now a flourishing team of volunteers who tend the garden, growing vegetables and fruit for distribution to residents nearby.”

Stuart commended the project’s contribution to community spirit: “What the community have achieved in Menstrie is a brilliant demonstration of the Charter’s vision for vibrant local communities, where people have the opportunity to grow, cook and enjoy food together.”

Les Sharp and James Bull of Menstrie Community Garden support the Clacks Good Food Charter


HAWKHILL COMMUNITY SHOP – FOOD DIGNITY

Hawkhill Community Shop was set up two years ago to help locals tackle the rising cost of living. The store offers subsidised goods for an annual membership fee of £5, allowing families to buy kitchen cupboard staples and fresh foods for less.

Development Manager Hayley Bunyan said: “The results of a community consultation carried out in 2019 were clear. People wanted help with the cost of food, but they didn’t want another food bank.

“Everyone is welcome to use the shop, we don’t ask questions and we don’t have any criteria to join. Being accessible to everyone is something we are very passionate about.

“Our model is all about promoting dignity and self-worth. We are all feeling the pinch to some degree.”

As a social enterprise, the store is about people not profit, as Hayley explained:

“We’re a not for profit and any income we make is invested back into stock for the shop.

“We’re always working hard to keep costs down, but also to source the items our customers are looking for.

“We currently offer up to 20 items per week for £6, which has proved popular with the families.”

The expansion of the shop over the past two years has also created volunteering opportunities for adults with additional support needs – in partnership with the Whins Resource Centre – and jobs for the long term unemployed.

Hayley said: “We now have three part time employees and a loyal band of volunteers who help restock the shop each Monday.

“The shop is part of busy community centre offering a wide range of support to help people live well locally.

“We also run cookery classes with the NHS nutritional team to show what recipes can be whipped up with the items we stock, which have been well received by our regulars.

“We’re also hoping to partner with local businesses, artists and food producers soon – so watch this space!”

Stuart praised the project’s approach, saying: “The work Hayley and the team are doing in Hawkhill is a prime example of the Charter’s vision for health, where people can access affordable, good food with dignity.”

Donna McClean of Sauchie Active8 Supports the Clacks Good Food Charter


SAUCHIE ACTIVE8 – SKILLS SHARING

Sauchie Active8 has been supporting the local community for nearly 20 years. Gaining charitable status in 2017, the organisation, led by dedicated team of local volunteers, is committed to enhancing the lives of local residents through lifelong learning.

The charity provided a vital lifeline to families during the pandemic, offering weekly meal packs and cooking at home classes in partnership with NHS Forth Valley.

Development Worker Donna McLean said: “During the pandemic our activities focussed on ensuring access to good food, distributing over 1500 food and fresh produce packs to vulnerable residents and providing 1050 ingredients packs for weekly cooking programmes.

“Since then, we’ve also developed a great programme with Sunnyside Primary afterschool club, teaching parents and children to cook together.”

The charity’s engagement with the community doesn’t stop at cooking; they also promote group gardening activities and at home growing.

Donna explained: “Our families have really enjoyed gardening workshops. The kids loved mucking in with the planting, and it was a race to see who could water everything first each week.”

Stuart celebrated the project’s commitment to skill sharing: “It’s great to see the confidence locals have gained around food thanks to Active8’s cooking sessions. It’s a fantastic example of the type of community project the Charter is there to encourage, where knowledge, skills and resources around good food are shared.”

TAKE THE CLACKS GOOD FOOD PLEDGE

Discover what sustainable food work is already happening in Clacks, share your good food stories and take the pledge at: www.forthvalleyfoodfutures.org/clacks-good-food