Local Food Economy

Heart of BS13: using our environment to tackle health inequalities

By Jodie Smith

Jodie Smith

In our latest Bristol Bites Back Better blog we hear from Heart of BS13’s Food Security Programme Lead, Jodie Smith, about the work the organisation is doing in Hartcliffe and Withywood. Mobilising adults, young people and children to improve life outcomes, Heart of BS13 address food hardship, improves physical and mental health and takes action to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis.

Heart of BS13 focuses on three main areas of work – food, horticulture, and climate and biodiversity action.  We are also starting a new and exciting venture at Hartcliffe City Farm! Read on to find out more about all the different projects we’re working on.

Heart of BS13 Kitchen

The Heart of BS13 Kitchen was set up as a social enterprise to help fund our food security work. During the COVID-19 pandemic we sent out 40,000 meals to 400 households over an 18-month period. Read on the Bristol Bites Back Better blog about how our chefs rose to the challenge during the first lockdown. With the current cost-of-living crisis, we are still seeing a steady rise in demand for this service – and our pay it forward range generates the finances to meet the ongoing demand.

Heart of BS13 Kitchen Meal Packaging

Our talented chefs create beautiful meals in small batches, using fresh produce from the Heart of BS13 garden – which are then fast frozen to lock the goodness in! Every meal bought supports a household of four people to have delicious high-quality food choices and professional support to tackle the challenges they face. We are thrilled to have our meals in the following stockists: all four Better Food stores, The Public Market, Wild Oats, Lye Cross Farm Shop and Campus Pool Skatepark.

Mobile food shop

Hartcliffe and Withywood in BS13 is recognised as a ‘food desert’, a place in which it is difficult for people on low incomes or without access to transport to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. This has motivated us to develop a Heart of BS13 mobile food shop, selling a combination of ready-made, high-quality meals from our kitchens, plus fresh fruit, veg and other staples like bread, milk, dairy, eggs and meat.  

Our new Heart of BS13 e-cargo bike with a refrigerated store attached will enable us to stock and sell good-quality healthy food and locally grown produce to local people whatever their income. We’ll have riders delivering on regular rounds to streets in Hartcliffe and Withywood, similar to the butcher or fruit and veg vans that used to make weekly visits to neighbourhoods.

Growing in the Heart of BS13 garden
Food, horticulture, and climate and biodiversity action are Heart of BS13’s main areas of work.

Slow cooker project

In January we launched our new slow cooker project, offering a fuss-free way to cook healthier meals, in large batches that can be eaten that day or frozen for a later date. They are very energy efficient, so offer an affordable way to cook.

We are working with 10 families in BS13. Some have used slow cookers before, but not for ages. For others, this is a completely new way of cooking. Each family was given a brand-new slow cooker to keep, and a recipe and ingredients for one big family meal per week. We check to see how they are getting along and if they need any extra support. 

The aim is to offer new ideas and recipes, and help to build confidence for those who may not always enjoy cooking or have the time. We’re already looking forward to running this project again in the autumn with 30 new families in BS13!

The Roundhouse

We’ve almost finished redeveloping our Roundhouse site in BS13. It’s a community space where people of all ages can meet and take part in activities and events, such as Guerrilla Grub (a group offering cooking activities to support socially isolated men). 

The redeveloped site will house our climate action hub, a space to engage with ideas and activities that mean that every household can contribute to the environmental call to action. A re-developed site will significantly increase capacity for attendance of events, and will safely increase access for disabled people in our community.   

Just-harvested potatoes in hands

Hartcliffe City Farm

This is an exciting and ambitious new project for the Heart of BS13 team! We are partnering with Windmill Hill City Farm to build Hartcliffe City Farm into a thriving hub of community activity. As the Hartcliffe City Farm work develops it will become a home for low carbon innovations and industries, and a place to explore carbon reduction and biodiversity protection.

We’ve just signed the lease for the land, and the two teams have been meeting on the site to discuss the intricacies of the development and how to bring the site to life! The plans for the farm include a visitor space with animals, a café and areas to connect with nature; we’ll be launching an education programme for schools and young people; and the growing space for our market garden and cut-flower enterprise is already well underway.

We will be sharing our progress with this project regularly via our website – watch this space.

We are all about improving health and putting BS13 on the map where social enterprise supports a healthy and thriving community. Follow our social media or sign up to our newsletter for regular updates about activities and volunteer days.

By setting the wheels in motion now, together we can transform the future of food in our city, building in resilience over the next decade. So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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