Master Gardeners John and Sandy Young have won the Local Food heroes in the West Midlands!
John and Sandy Young beat all their competitors to be named West Midlands Local Food Heroes 2012.
Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme received a £459,709 grant from Local Food in 2009 to develop a practical model for a volunteer support network in Warwickshire and elsewhere to support people and communities to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and on local communal land.
Kate Newman, Warwickshire Volunteer Coordinator at the Master Gardener Programme, nominated John and Sandy jointly for an award in the summer because of their dedication to the project, as well as their passion, reliability, and ability to enthuse others about food growing. 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.”
Working as a team, and with many years of gardening experience and composting knowledge between them, John and Sandy help with local school gardening clubs and attend events, as well as running a regular stall at Rugby Farmers’ Market, where they offer advice and support to local people. They give talks, run workshops and question time sessions, encouraging people to grow food at home – no matter how small a space they have to grow in.
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 and helping new growers to make a success of their vegetable plots.
John and Sandy, who have been members of Garden Organic for 25 years, were initially shortlisted by a Local Food panel, and then competed jointly against two other West Midlands finalists in a public vote to decide the winner. Thousands of people across the country voted for a Local Food Hero, in one or more regions of England, by visiting the Local Food website.
Mark Wheddon, Local Food Programme Manager, said:
“Since we opened the Local Food programme in 2008, we’ve heard many wonderful anecdotes about the fantastic contribution that members of the community are making to ensure the success of their local projects. So we decided to celebrate and recognise some of these unsung heroes by encouraging projects to nominate the ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
“We had a great response, and are delighted to present John and Sandy with this very well-deserved award. They are true Local Food Heroes, an inspiration to others and champions of the benefits of food growing. It is thanks to individuals like these that our projects are going beyond the aim of making local food more accessible and affordable, and are building community capacity across England.”
Chris Worman, of Ruby Borough Council, said:
“John and Sandy are not only Master Gardeners but also Master Composters and I class them as ‘local ambassadors’ who 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.”
There is even a video to watch!
Watch a video about John and Sandy