Grow, Share, Cook celebration event held

Tami Skelton from Food is Fun, Zoe Nile from Plymouth Community Homes, and Rachael Forster from Tamar Grow Local.

Pictured, left to right: Tami Skelton from Food is Fun, Zoe Nile from PCH, and Rachael Forster from Tamar Grow Local.

A celebration event has taken place to mark one year of volunteer cookery sessions with residents.

The Grow, Share Cook sessions up at Plumer House, the headquarters for Plymouth Community Homes, led by Tami Skelton from Food is Fun, have now been taking place for a year as part of the Our Plymouth volunteer initiative. The aim of Grow, Share, Cook, is to mobilise volunteers to grow more fresh fruit and vegetables, the development of community gardens and the distribution of the food to those in need, as well as healthy cookery sessions.

Since Grow, Share, Cook and Our Plymouth were launched:

  • 23,360 meals have been given to 1,611 people
  • 85% of participants say they now have a healthier diet
  • 89% of participants say that Grow, Share, Cook has helped improve their cooking skills
  • 103 families have been receiving free fortnightly fruit and veg boxes
  • 216 pots and pans have been donated in the pots and pans amnesty
All ages came and enjoyed the Grow, Share, Cook event at Plumer House.

People of all ages came and enjoyed the Grow, Share, Cook event at Plumer House.

Our Plymouth is based on the Cities of Service volunteer model and Plymouth is one of seven cities in the UK to be selected to take part. Cities of Service is based on an American volunteer scheme initiated by the former Mayor Bloomberg and has been adapted for the UK by the Cabinet Office and Nesta. Locally Our Plymouth is coordinated by Plymouth City Council working with a range of local partners.

The celebration event was aimed at Grow, Share, Cook volunteers and participants and was attended by around 30 residents plus Our Plymouth volunteers and representatives from a range of local partner agencies. There were people of all ages at the event, from pre-school to pensioners, the youngest of which was three year old Lilly-Ruth Robertshaw.

Lilly attended the event with her mum Sarah Robertshaw, who said: “We have really enjoyed going to Grow, Share, Cook and getting the veg boxes, and the kids have enjoyed exploring the different vegetables and recipes. Lilly’s favourite vegetable is carrots.”

Friends Gwen Wengradt and Val Sneddon (also pictured at the back, above, with Lilly-Ruth and Helen Bradford at the front), who both live in Ernesettle, also attended the event. Gwen said: “It’s been great coming to the Grow, Share Cook sessions and we have all learned a lot of new recipes as a result. I really like making the savoury cupcakes and have tried lots of different recipes.”

Plymouth is one of only seven 'Cities of Service' in the UK.

Plymouth is one of only seven ‘Cities of Service’ in the UK.

Darin Halifax, Chief Cities of Service Officer for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are really pleased with the success of Grow, Share, Cook and the difference it has made to people’s lives so far. The project has worked really well with the help of our partners Food Is Fun, Plymouth Community Homes, Tamar Grow Local, Plymouth City Council and most important of all, the volunteers and participants – we couldn’t have done it without them all.

“The aim of the celebration event was to say a big thank you to all those who have taken part. The healthy cooking sessions at Plumer House have been really popular and people have taken their learning back home and shared it with their families.”

Tami Skelton, Nutritionist and Director of Food is Fun, said: “It has been an amazing year working with the families and seeing the difference that Grow, Share Cook has made to people’s lives. The people that have taken part in the cooking sessions with us have become much more confident through A having the access to more fresh vegetables by receiving free veg bags, and B having the knowledge of how to cook them. They have also been sharing their recipes and passing on their experience and knowledge to their families – it’s all about teaching people valuable life skills.”

Preparing food at the Grow, Share, Cook event.

Preparing food at the Grow, Share, Cook event.

Zoe Nile from Plymouth Community Homes said: “Our Plymouth has created a renewed love of home cooking and healthy eating. Grow, Share Cook has enabled our residents to discover new skills in the kitchen, through PCH hosted cooking sessions, cooking healthy meals. Plymouth Energy Community has provided a great help in reducing energy bills keeping homes warm for less. Our partnerships have ensured a true sense of wellbeing has been achieved across the city”

Rachael Forster for Tamar Grow Local said: “Our Plymouth has real potential to change lives through its holistic approach to tackling issues in the city such as fuel poverty and healthy eating. At the peak of the project we were delivering 100 veg bags a fortnight to front doors across the city, all sourced from Tamar Grow Local growing projects, Tamar Valley growers or English farms which is fantastic both for the recipients who get really fresh food and the small local growers who are benefitting from increased sales. It’s been a project that has really brought people together and a project we have been really proud to be part of.”
To find out more about Our Plymouth, contact Darin Halifax on 01752 305446 or email

The Our Plymouth website can be accessed at
You can also follow Our Plymouth on twitter at @ourplymouth

Notes to editors:

Key partners in Grow, Share Cook are Tamar Grow Local, Food is Fun and Plymouth Community Homes. There are a range of volunteering opportunities available and among those is delivering fresh fruit and vegetables to people’s homes. Since the initiative was launched, 22,500 portions of healthy food have been distributed.

In addition to Grow, Share, Cook, other schemes under the Our Plymouth banner include Energy Champions which promotes energy efficiency across the city, and Right to Read, which encourages local people to volunteer their time to help schoolchildren read.

Our Plymouth partners also include Plymouth Energy Community and Plymouth University.
Since Our Plymouth was launched, 22,500 portions of healthy food have been distributed through Grow, Share, Cook, Plymouth residents have saved £134,000 on their energy bills, and 117 volunteers have been recruited to the project. In addition, almost 2,000 residents have had conversations with our Energy Champion volunteers.