New job crops up for grow-your-own girl

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The people of Dacorum will have a chance to eat better now that green-fingered Nicole Jackson has landed her dream job.

Nicole has been appointed local food coordinator for Dacorum, and her sole aim is to get people to buy and eat locally-sourced food.

She said: “When I saw the advert, I was so excited. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve had great support already.”

The new position is at the helm of the Dacorum Local Food Initiative project, which has the aim of raising the profile of local food and strengthening sustainable local food systems.

Nicole’s role is being hosted by the Sunnyside Rural Trust at its Hemel Food Garden in Two Waters Road, with the position being mainly funded by grant-making organisation the Esmee Fairburn Foundation and cash pledges made by councillors under the locality budget scheme.

Nicole said “In the first couple of months it’s all been research really, and finding out what people want.”

In order to spread the local food message, Nicole will be popping up at educational roadshows across Dacorum in schools, community centres, church and village fetes.

“My aim is to raise awareness of how much produce can be sourced locally, and to make it easier to buy locally by increasing the places where people can find it.

“So, for example, if there’s a deli stall at a local farmer’s market, where do they source their meat? If it’s outside of Dacorum, why? Is it too expensive, or is it because they cannot find it? I’m here to change that.”

Nicole herself grows vegetables, and is passionate about the positive effects of individuals cultivating their own food.

She said: “I want to show people that growing their own food can be rewarding, and I want to encourage kids to eat healthy, home-grown food.

“I think there’s a lot of disconnection with food, especially in the younger generation, and I want to change that by bringing the community together.

“People can grow on a windowsill, so I want to change peoples’ perceptions that growing your own is time-consuming and boring.

“There may well be people who want to grow their own, but just don’t have the means. I’m here to find spaces for them to do that.

“Why not turn a piece of waste land into a herb garden? I’m an outdoorsy person who cares for the environment, and I want to give something back.”

The two-year project is one of only two others in the country, currently in Leicester and Staffordshire Moorlands. Nicole says the ultimate aim is to make the project self-sustaining.

“If we do well, then these projects will be rolled out across the country, so essentially we’re guinea pigs at the moment. I’m absolutely loving the job.”

Nicole will be at Tring’s Spring Fayre on Saturday, April 27, between 11am and 3pm.

For more information visit www.dacorumlocalfood.org.uk.