HEXHAM Fresh Food Bank is relaunching this spring.

The Fresh Food Bank is a community association made up of volunteer gardeners who grow and harvest fresh produce for delivery to those most in need.

The scheme was launched by Ginnie O’Farrell last April in response to the increased number of people in need of fresh food support due to the pandemic.

Ginnie said she now hopes to expand the number of growers participating in the scheme this year.

“It’s no secret that, thanks to furlough, wage freezes, cuts to zero hour contracts and job losses, more people than ever, from all walks of life, are in need of help in putting good quality food on their tables,” said Ginnie.

“Our growers made a significant contribution last year, and I want to see our number of participants expanding this growing season.

“All you need to join in is a small area to grow a crop in - a section of your garden or allotment, or even just a few pots, a trough or a growbag.”

On Saturday (April 24), Ginnie will be running a stall at Hexham Farmers’ Market to distribute seed starter kits to volunteer growers for planting and harvest through the summer months, and also to receive donations from people who want to help but don’t have the growing space.

Any funds received will go into buying plants and equipment for the project, Ginnie said.

Ginnie wants to plan for the winter season, too, when fresh produce is sparse.

She said: “We can grow some winter crops, but I also want to produce homemade food such as soups, crumbles and frozen produce for distribution to those we’ve helped during the summer.

“We have a few hurdles to clear in terms of secure packaging for homemade produce, to ensure no leakages, and that we are complying with food safety regulations, but will have this in place before harvest.”

Ginnie is also appealing for help in finding additional land and resources for the scheme.

She said she has received pots, packs of seeds and watering roses to fix onto soft drinks bottles from the Royal Horticultural Society’s outreach programme to help new growers get started.

But she added: “An area of land for planting from a local landowner, and donations for polytunnels and equipment would be a huge boost in providing high quality, organic produce.

“If anyone is able to support the Fresh Food Bank in this way, I would love to hear from them.”

Ginnie is running as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hexham Central with Acomb in the upcoming local elections, and said tackling food poverty is one of her top priorities.

To participate in this year’s Hexham Fresh Food Bank project, contact Ginnie via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/hexhamfreshfoodbank, via email to ginnie4hexham@gmail.com, or visit the stall at Hexham Farmers’ Market on Saturday April 24.