A COUPLE from Rugby have been crowned the West Midlands’ Food Heroes 2012 for their work inspiring others to grow their own food.
John and Sandy Young beat all their competitors nominated from a Lottery-funded initiative called the Master Gardener Programme. The scheme received a £459,709 grant from the Local Food programme in 2009 to create a volunteer support network to help people and communities to grow food.
Kate Newman, Warwickshire volunteer coordinator at the Master Gardener Programme, nominated John and Sandy jointly for an award in the summer.
She was struck by their dedication to the project, as well as their passion, reliability, and ability to enthuse others about food growing.
The pair have helped with local school gardening clubs and attended events, as well as running a regular stall at Rugby Farmers’ Market, where they offer advice and support to local people.
They’ve given talks, run workshops and question time sessions, encouraging people to grow food at home.
Over the past two years they have clocked up more than 600 hours of volunteering and have supported more than 30 households to grow their own, offering young plants, demonstrating gardening techniques to help others make a success of their vegetable plots.
Kate said: “John and Sandy have endless enthusiasm and passion to help others discover the benefits of growing their own food, and we are thrilled they have been recognised as Local Food Heroes.”
Chris Worman, of Ruby Borough Council, said: “John and Sandy are always happy to assist others in the growing of local, organically produced food. It is my pleasure to support and congratulate John and Sandy on this very well earned recognition of their enthusiasm and passion for their volunteering.”
Mark Wheddon, Local Food programme manager, added: “It is thanks to individuals like these that our projects are going beyond the aim of making local food more accessible and affordable.”