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Updated: Nov 24, 2023

At policy level Cheltenham's food system is based on the provision of emergency food to our communities by signposting citizens to the food bank or food pantry, however as we work towards a net zero future, there can be no doubt that community growing can play a strong part in a fairer, more resilient and socially positive role in our food system change.

To acheive sustainability within our communities we need to build on the foundations of emergency food provision and focus on community resilience. Boosting resilience means strengthening communities and enhancing their health in a way that will reduce the negative impacts of challenges both present and future whether thats polictical, environmental, or worldwide challenges.

A more sustainable food system is one that delivers food security and nutrition to everyone without compromising the well-being of people or the planet now and in the future. Good Food Cheltenham truly believes this is possible but is providing chemical free food with low food miles and zero food waste actually possible in an urban town such as Cheltenham?

Lanching the Fresh Hope Garden Project

To trial this Good Food Cheltenham are launching a collaborative 12 month pilot starting January (2024) with Fresh Hope Pantry, Project Grow, Cheltenham Community Flowers and the Community Rest Garden to see whether we can supply the families they are already setup to serve with a more sustainable choice of good food and flowers.

Both Fresh Hope Food Pantry and the Community Rest Garden are located in the St Peters ward of Cheltenham exactly 0.1 miles from one another. The 2019 Indices of Deprivation showed St Peters and the Moors are listed in the most 20% most deprived areas within Cheltenham sitting in the fourth quartile of the country.

Fresh Hope Food Pantry is an already establised pantry running a low cost membership which sees 25+ households attending regularly a week and are able to shop 10 shelf items and 2 items from either the fridge or the freezer.  The Pantry stocks a selection of store cupboard items, fresh dairy and meat items as well as fruit and vegetables bought mainly from the supermarket.  Good Food Cheltenham is aiming to supply Fresh Hope with seasonally grown vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers in place of some of the produce currently supplied by supermarkets which will result in lower food miles and enhanced sustainability..

The Community Rest Garden (CRG) is Cheltenham's biggest community growing space where you can pick your own food, herbs and flowers or you can have your own patch. Anyone is welcome to visit, volunteer at or join as a member. Offering PYO pesticide-free herbs, fruit & vegetables, swap or donate plant stall and opportunities to learn about gardening and wildlife with tools and snacks provided. From 2024 both Project Grow and Cheltenham Community Flowers will be taking over an area of the CRG to grow for Fresh Hope.

Why seasonal Good Food?

Eating seasonally means eating foods that are naturally in harvest at that time of year.  In the UK we’ve gotten used to having any food we want at any time of the year. But out-of-season produce means flying it in from overseas or using intensive farming methods such as pesticides and greenhouses to force them to grow year-round. Both of these use lots of resources and come with huge carbon footprints.

Eating local and seasonal food is not only more tasty and healthy, we've found that it’s often more affordable, as it hasn't had to be imported, and is more readily available during that month which all form the foundations of a more sustainable food system.  

What are we hoping to achieve?

We want to see a more vibrant, healthier, sustainable, and more equitable food system across Cheltenham that creates opportunities for our communities to participate from farm to fork.

This pilot is an real opportunity for us to see whether we can offer our citizens a more sustainable choice in terms of the food they are eating whilst measuring the impact this pilot has on our individual citizens, community and local food system.

As well as growing and providing the food and flowers the project also aims to eliminate any waste left over each week by redistributing via our partnership networks or composting on site at the Community Rest Garden.

What's next?

We are aiming to launch the pilot fully in January 2024 (watch this space) however we are currently working hard behind the scenes to sow, grow and plant ready for harvest next year.

The collaboration will see the Community Rest Garden providing the land for the pilot;

Project Grow will be providing the food plants and growing the vegetables and

Cheltenham Community Flowers will be growing, cutting & providing flowers.

If you would like to be involved as an individual or as an organisation please contact us at

Roll on 2024!

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