Belfast Telegraph

Culture Night Belfast: Allotments take root

Culture Night Belfast's latest partnership is bearing fruit (and veg) in a very good cause….

Root Soup is a social enterprise which grows and prepares vegetables to make soups and breads, directly involving people who have learning disabilities and people who are homeless working together to learn and grow. A “field to fork” initiative, Root Soup offers training and employment opportunities across the food chain in areas such as growing, preparation and catering. Their greater aim is to enhance the relationship between people with disabilities, people who are homeless and the rest of our society, using the simple act of growing fresh healthy produce together as a catalyst.

This chimed SO much with CNB2014’s theme of organic growth, not to mention our slogan “Feed Me”, that Culture Night joined forces with Root Soup to present the shiny, new and 100 per cent sustainable Culture Night Allotment initiative.

The plan is simple: Culture Night has co-opted a number of vegetable and fruit beds, plots and Polytunnels at Root Soup’s scenic Vista Allotment in Dundonald.

These will offer up a delicious and dizzying variety of potential produce such as runner beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, courgettes, leeks, peas, carrots, onions, beetroots, spinach, strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries and apples.

Local organisations, venues, businesses and individuals were asked to sponsor a bed of produce. A sponsored bed-in if you like. And all 20 beds were snapped up within days! Each sponsor got naming rights on whichever vegetable or fruit bed takes their fancy – from Apples to Zucchinis (that’s American for courgette!). Root Soup and Culture Night have been tracking the progress of the sponsored produced through a photo diary, and then, come the big evening of 19 Sept, the produce will be harvested, prepared and used to train, feed and nurture those most in need.

Culture Night Belfast Manager Adam Turkington says: “Sometimes when you’re planning events the ingredients just come together. Our decision to use the visual language of growth coincided with a chance meeting with Root Soup and very quickly we saw the great potential. We always like our PR campaigns to give people something more to get their teeth into and their social economy was a really exciting project that worked on so many levels. The response from local business has been truly overwhelming.”

Gillian Mangan of Root Soup said: "We are really excited to be part of Culture Night this year. To me Culture night is the most broadly appealing event Belfast City has to offer. We feel really fortunate to be partnering with Culture Night's organisers. They are helping us in many ways - gaining business sponsors for veggie beds and helping to spread the word about our socially responsible outside catering service.

Root soup represents using one simple thing (food) as a means of bringing people from all walks of life together. I like to think that food is the binding agent! Culture night does the same thing except culture night does it on a massive scale and uses all kinds of weird and wonderful experiences to engage and connect. "

Root Soup will also be down at Culture Night on 19 September from 5pm-10pm at Buoys park, inviting passersby to help them plant the crop that will become their soup, with their interactive seed bomb workshops. Hop on the blender bike and help themto blitz some of our famous, ethical and locally produced soup! Buy some 'Suspended Soup' and help someone more needy than you...

For details on Culture Night Belfast or Culture Night Allotments, please go to www.culturenightbelfast.com

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