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Dig It and Eat It!

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Autumn 2004 brought a new direction to Green Gym - the Dig It and Eat It! Project. By teaching participants about fruit and vegetable growing and lessons about improving one’s diet, the project will hopefully bring a lasting change in lifestyle to the people involved. The new initiative focuses on the combination of diet and physical health as the key for well-being and fitness.

A dietician from the Eastern Health Board completes the project with sessions on nutritional education. The combination of physical activity, horticultural training, and nutritional know-how will hopefully motivate the groups and individuals to continue with their gardens on their own when the funding ends.

Co-ordinated from The Conservation Volunteers’ Belfast Office, the project covers County Down and Belfast areas and aims to work with a wide range of individuals of all ages and walks of life in order to spread the healthy food message to as many people as possible.

Growing your own also contributes to mitigating the effects of climate change. The main ways growing your own can help are outlined below:

  • Reduce food miles - Food transport = 2% of UKs total carbon emissions1
  • Reduce packaging - Food packaging = 1/3 household waste
  • Reduce waste - Edible food equivalent to 20m tonnes CO2 is thrown away in the UK each year2
  • Change behaviour - connecting to nature leads to an increase in environmental awareness and environmentally friendly lifestyles3
  • Bring communities together

Each group is so enthusiastic and harvesting the bounty of crops in the summer and autumn certainly makes up for all the digging, manuring and seed sowing that occurs earlier. The Conservation Volunteers’ idea is now bearing fruit (and vegetables!) across Northern Ireland!

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden Project is supported financially by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

  1. The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development,  July 2005, Defra
  2. Household Food & Drink Waste in the UK report, Nov 2009, WRAP -
  3. Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment.  Hine, R, Peackock, J and Pretty, J, University of Essex April 2008