Roots to Work
Lifetime employment within the same organisation is now
exceptional rather than the norm and the job market is competitive.
Yet many individuals lack employability skills that can improve
their chance of finding and keeping a job. These skills include
showing confidence and initiative, reliability and timekeeping. By
engaging in practical activities people can develop and show their
readiness for work. A classroom is not always the best environment
for developing and demonstrating these skills.
CSD conducted a review of the evidence on how involvement in
community food-growing and urban agriculture projects can help
people to develop their employability and ultimately find work. We
also interviewed 30 people in 24 relevant projects across London.
The project was developed in partnership with the Capital Growth
food-growing network, a partnership initiative led by London Food
Link, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and the Big Lottery's
Local Food Fund.
report, published in October 2011, gives an outline of
employability skills with examples provided from 24 London-based
projects and from international literature; some of the key
- Community food-growing and urban agriculture projects in London
include a wide range of people in local communities. They include
people with difficulties that are likely to affect their employment
chances, such as long-term unemployment, physical or mental
disability, addiction, homelessness, and language barriers.
- Participation in these projects can help develop people’s
confidence and the level of social support that they have around
- Participants can develop transferable skills that are important
for working life, including self-management, problem solving, and
interpersonal skills such as teamwork, leadership, and supporting
- By participating in food-growing and urban agriculture people
can develop technical skills which prepare them for jobs. They can
develop enterprise skills and they can be encouraged to take part
in formal learning.
- Community food-growing projects can facilitate transitions into
work by providing references for participants, enlarging their
networks of contacts and sometimes connecting them directly with
The report provides a well-substantiated picture of the extent
to which food-growing can develop skills, and can be used by urban
agriculture projects as as a basis for discussing and developing
the impact of their work. Our partner, Capital Growth, have
used the recommendations to guide their strategic thinking on
skills development and training. The report was also referenced in
2012 in the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts’
evaluation of the Big Lottery’s local food programme.
The report has led to a follow-on partnership with food-growing
and training co-operative Organiclea. We have documented
Organiclea’s good practice with regard to supporting the learning
of volunteers, and have devised good practice principles which are
also validated by other trainers.
The resulting guidance has been published in a volunteer
training toolkit in July 2013.
Footage from the Roots to Work launch event
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I appreciate very much your agriculture program because I
see that it is imperative to help others who do not have anything
to eat and I think you can the poorest countries of the earth as my
dear Haiti homeland. Could work together to help people to develop
the ability to produce their own food (courtyard garden) and other
things like a chicken or community they buy a derisory price hens
or produce vegetables, they learn how to ensure food
Jean Allritch DERIS
Student in Agricultural Sciences
Responsible organization Foyer Eclosion.
Fri 19/10/2012 21:43