By Kal Gill-Faci, Senior Architect at Levitt Bernstein
Since the start of this summer, I have been making weekly donations of organic fruit and vegetables grown on my allotment to a homeless day centre in south Manchester. I live in Urmston and have an allotment at Humphrey Park Allotments in Stretford, a sizeable self-managed site with 80 or so plots in total. I grow all sorts – plenty to sustain my family – and the idea of donating surplus produce was sparked after I received a free polytunnel (essentially a lo-fi greenhouse), which has allowed me to extend the growing season and increase the amount I can produce.
I have persuaded a number of my fellow allotment owners to donate too, and I collect the produce every week and deliver it to the Cornerstone Day Centre in Moss Side. I also plan to donate to Stretford Food Bank on Barton Road next year, as the growing season has now slowed down. This work has begun to spread more widely too – most recently to 36 other allotment sites across Trafford through the Allotment Officer, Janet Long, who has very kindly circulated my details and raised the idea at a recent allotment forum meeting. Through Janet, I have met with the Chairman and Secretary of Moss Park Allotments, Lesley Road, who wants to get involved next year.
My personal efforts are mirrored in my professional life. Levitt Bernstein, comprised of architects, landscape architects and urban designers, was founded 50 years ago in the midst of the housing crisis, and the Practice continues to have a strong sense of social responsibility. I am involved with a business support group aligned to the Manchester Homelessness Partnership (MHP), where I share my work with a network of like-minded and influential contacts. I have spoken to Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, about the work I’m doing with food donations and MHP, which in turn led to a meeting with Beth Knowles, the Councillor leading on rough sleeping/homelessness, to discuss further ideas for how design professionals can support this increasingly important issue.
I am very keen to find out if there are opportunities to work with other allotment sites in Greater Manchester, who would consider donating to charitable organisations or food banks. If you know someone or a community that can help, please contact me by email or call me on 07958 513 828.