Why support this local food producer?

Sarah K visits the Severn Project

The Severn Project in Bristol aims to empower individuals and communities by providing authentic training, education and employment opportunities. They believe that their social impact is growing in parallel with their business and that can only be a great thing.

A multi-faceted project with a great ethos centered around creating a positive social impact is quite literally reaping what it sows. They are a relatively young company combining a passion for food and nutrition with a desire to making a change. Working with people recovering from drug and alcohol misuse, the community interest company produces over 15 varieties of seasonal salad leaves that are packed and prepared for delivery within hours of picking.

When I visited the farm, I was surprised by the scale of it. I had not been to an urban farm before but rows of polytunnels, a red tractor and land spanning over a good few acres were not what I was expecting. We were speaking to Steve who took the time to explain the project and showed us around.

It was wonderful to see how an idea had bloomed to full fruition, and, according to Steve, is still steadily expanding which is great for the community and his customers. His passion for the project was infectious and you can clearly see how much knowledge he has on the farming, the nutrients, the health benefits and his staffs’ needs.

For me, the most amazing part of the Severn Project is the fact that not only do they supply delicious, fresh, local produce to 220 customers around Bristol and the South West, but it is their social impact that is so impressive. Using an innovative model, they support people recovering from drug and alcohol misuse, people with poor mental health and those with offending backgrounds to go back to work. Through long-term structure and support the Severn Project is designed as an alternative to the cycle of treatment and relapse, which can result in a collapse of hope and self-belief.

Since May 2010 the Severn Project has supported over 350 people at no cost to the city of Bristol, the referring agency or the individual, providing a range of different supporting strategies – therapeutic support, housing, training, education and employment.

I grew up in leafy Bristol but I moved to pursue medicine at St Bart’s and the London, located in the heart of East London, five years ago. Unsurprisingly since then I have met a much wider range of people, from all walks of life, than I could have ever imagined. I learnt about the impact social inequalities have on health, how important social support is for many patients especially those who are potentially vulnerable, like the people that are employed at the Severn Project.

Taking the bold and even arguably ambitious steps to making a change, especially considering the current competitive market, and seeing the success of the dedicated team at the Severn Project, is refreshing and incredibly inspiring.

It has been great to meet the Severn Project Team. I’ve enjoyed their produce and encouraged my own family to buy locally through the scheme. The next step is to make sure we can support projects like this so that they are sustainable.

Thank you, Sarah.

The Severn Project now grow in Holt too. Do you want to get involved or support the project? Here’s how: thesevernproject.org

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