An Aberystwyth student has explained why he decided to set up Roots and Culture, a project which has seen a piece of council-owned land in Aberystwyth being transformed into what he describes as a “guerilla grow”.
The project has seen a small section of empty scrubland just outside of the castle in the seaside town turned into an outdoor communal garden.
Aberystwyth resident Samuel Davis told Ceredigion Online he started Roots and Culture to inspire others into growing their own food over the lockdown.
“The benefits of urban farms are truly spectacular”
“Our ethos is to tackle the ever increasing food crisis we face in one of the worlds most developed countries,” Mr Davis said.
“This is about educating the public on growing your own food.
“By doing it on a small scale on land that isn’t being used we can show people the potential of having such spaces.
“A social enterprise of this sort benefits local communities massively.
“I encourage projects like this throughout towns and cities across the UK. The benefits of urban farms are truly spectacular.
“It’s important to leave the world a better place than we found it”
“I want to develop Roots and Cultures online platform, and contact local authorities and charities about working with people to hopefully progress this into a permanent venture – whether in the same location, or elsewhere in Aberystwyth.
“We want to empower communities and individuals through growing vegetables, as well as tackling the ever increasing food crisis we face.
“We also think it’s important to leave the world a better place than we found it.”
A positive effect on wellbeing
Mr Davis explained that he also felt gardening can have a positive impact on mental health.
The Aberystwyth University student said that he himself had found that the project had been incredibly helpful for his own wellbeing during the lockdown.
“The project is something that I have been meaning to start for a while,” Mr Davis continued.
“It has many other factors behind it, but one thing that stands out is mental health
“A project that empowers individuals and communities through growing vegetables has huge benefits”
“Our mental health is an ever increasing cost to the NHS and our local authorities, and we have little in the way of dealing with such deep rooted social problems.
“It’s the isolated communities that suffer most.
“We think that Roots and Culture can help tackle this problem – even if it’s in a small way.
“I know through personal experience that a project that empowers individuals and communities through growing vegetables has huge benefits.”
“It’s not about the money”
One thing that Mr Davis wanted to stress was that the project was not about making money.
The student explained that people had offered to donate money, but he felt that this would take away from the message of being self-sustainable.
“This has been completely my own time and money,” Mr Davis explained.
“People have suggested donating, but I want to make it clear: this is not something I would ever encourage.
“Money is a huge issue in terms of not being self sustainable. This is why our project would strongly discourage any money based donations.
“The support from local groups has been brilliant”
“We think it is important to teach people that we don’t always need money, and to teach people about not being so reliant on such a environmentally barbaric system that promotes fast food culture of instant gratification.
“The support from local groups has been brilliant. Avert Food Supplies have been amazing, as have Grow Aber.
“Their donations and work have helped make this project possible.”