NELincs Food News

Mary Vickers – Community Food Co-ordinator

NE Lincolnshire

Tel: 07736 939171


Normal working days: Monday-Thursday

NELincs Food Bites

Please see the latest edition of “NELincs Food Bites” from Mary Vickers the Community Food Co-ordinator in NE Lincolnshire.

Transforming Grimsby car park spaces into new urban orchard and community garden

A variety of community groups are working together to bring fresh produce to Grimsby’s East Marsh area, in a project that aims to feed and educate local people as well as providing a new communal green space.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities gave North East Lincolnshire Council an £85,000 grant to create new urban green space or refurbish existing parks. Thanks to the funding, the Council will plant trees at the Albion Street Playground and community groups are set to create the new community garden on part of the underused Garibaldi Street car park.

As Community Food Co-ordinator in North East Lincolnshire, I’m working with The Salvation Army, St Andrew’s Church, the Rock Foundation, the Fisherman’s Mission and a variety of other local community groups to set up the new garden.

Planting areas, raised beds, pathways and fencing will be in place by the end of March. NELC is planting 35 fruit trees in the community garden, plus a selection of other trees on land next to Albion Street playground. 

As well as fruit trees, the community garden team plan on planting bushes for soft fruits, potatoes, carrots, salad, herbs and brassicas, such as cauliflower and cabbage. Encouraging people to grow, prepare and cook their own food is one of the main drivers behind the project.

An early sketch…

The Salvation Army building, opposite the car park, has a new community training kitchen where there are facilities to teach people cooking skills. It’s also hoped that food grown in the community garden will provide a steady supply of produce for the local community and the kitchen, as well as local food banks and other community food providers.

This will give people the opportunity to plant, grow, pick, and cook their own food all within a few metres of the garden – and maybe occasionally eat together too.

Cllr Stewart Swinburn, portfolio holder for environment and transport at North East Lincolnshire Council, added:

“By transforming part of this underused car park into a vibrant, community garden, the groups involved can create a new, much-needed green space.

“This project was earmarked for funding by the government because of the lack of greenery in the area and the levels of deprivation.

“From improving physical and mental wellbeing to providing an educational activity and a source of fresh produce, the new community garden is hugely beneficial for people in the area.”

As Community Food Co-ordinator in NELincs, part of my work is to help our variety of local community food providers (food banks and hot food kitchens) to work together and collaborate as often as they can.  Another important aspect of my role is to encourage and support projects which help individuals and communities to move away from reliance on free food parcels.  This exciting project works with both aims at the same time.

Providing an opportunity for people to learn to grow at least some of their own food is immensely valuable. Simply working together in the open air is known to increase wellbeing.  Adding this to the provision of practical growing and cooking skills can greatly increase both individual and community resilience.  It can also be fun!

An added aspect here is the range of different community groups who wish to be involved, all of whom will bring their own dimension to the project, as well as enabling wider involvement into as yet unreached groups within the local area.  We have a working title for all the community growing projects in NELincs – #CommunityGrowingNEL.  This highlights that communities who grow things together also grow together themselves.

Major Alison Gardner, corps leader at Grimsby Salvation Army, said:

“This project will provide many things, not only fresh produce for people who are struggling with the cost of living and reliant on food banks, but a peaceful place where people can sit among the trees in East Marsh, enjoy a picnic and view the dock tower. 

“As a church and charity, part of our mission is ‘care for creation’, the idea of protecting and caring for our planet.  The creation of this garden represents all that is good in our community, encouraging green space and providing a basis on which happiness, health, and friendship can be built and where every person can play a part and contribute.  It will be somewhere that children and older people can work and rest together with dignity, where those who plant can harvest, cook and eat their produce.

“The Salvation Army recently reopened its church and community centre in East Marsh where we have a thriving coffee shop and programme of activities. There’s a real energy about the place at the moment and this community garden will only add to that.” 

Alison Gardner & Mary Vickers at the garden site

How you can help

The team behind this project are appealing for volunteers to help prepare and plant the garden. We also need: water butts, chippings, compost, and soil.

Please get in touch with either myself or Alison if you want to help or have more questions

Post added 13 February 2023

Edible Grimsby – #GrowCookShare

On October 1st, several thousand people enjoyed a fun-packed, food-based celebration in Grimsby based on Growing, Cooking and Sharing.

The celebration was the culmination of an 18-month long project called Edible Grimsby.

The project worked with a variety of community groups in that time – largely but exclusively based in 6 Wards in the borough.  Despite the name, this included Cleethorpes and Immingham, as well as Grimsby!

Edible written in giant letters


There were already a few community gardens in NELincolnshire – Scartho Community Garden and Buffalo Bill’s Pocket Park to name but two.  As Community Food Co-ordinator in NELincs, I had already been trying to encourage further community growing, and Edible Grimsby built on my previous and existing work.  Different community groups worked on shared allotments, whilst others converted some of their own land into shared growing spaces.  Some continued their existing growing projects whilst others started growing for the first time.

As well as growing whatever they wanted to grow for their own use, for Edible Grimsby groups were encouraged to grow food that might go into dishes they could cook together for their community.  They were also encouraged to grow tomatoes and herbs, which were then donated to a local sauce maker – Cadey from The Beatroot Collective – who produced NELincolnshire’s first ever shared community ketchup!

Community Ketchup from the Beatroot Collective

In 2021, a number of community groups had run cookery courses to help them make use of Slow Cookers distributed through Mary’s #OnePotWonder project. This was built on in Edible Grimsby with cookery courses being run in each of the 6 Wards. Some of these focused on particular types of cooking (eg slow cookers) whilst others focused on topics such as ‘simple family meals’ or ‘cooking on a budget’. One additional common theme, though, was to come up with meals that used the veg grown in their community growing space to make dishes that could be shared with the wider community in their area.

Chopping in the food tent


Each Ward held a community fun day or similar event over the summer, where dishes were cooked and shared with the wider community.

At the big Edible Grimsby Celebration on 1st October, amongst all the entertainment, was a ‘Community Kitchen’ tent.  Led by one professionally trained community cook, who’d been part of the project in her own community, a team of volunteer cooks, kitchen assistants, and servers, produced 6 dishes of which taster sized samples were served to the general public attending the event.  It’s estimated that over 3000 servings were shared.  Some of those in the Community Kitchen hadn’t done much, or even any, cooking or food preparation this time last year, and that none had ever really served that many people in such quick succession in one session!

Cooking up a feast in the food tent

As well as the community groups, Edible Grimsby, involved lots of other sharing too.  Local organisations such as Green Futures Grimsby were heavily involved; as was Culture House a local arts/event company who provided a wide variety of food-related entertainment.  Local musicians were also invited to perform, and in the morning, there’d been a ‘Feast of ideas’ in Grimsby Minster where a wide range of speakers had shared their thoughts on diverse topics as food sustainability, food banks, food for health, food in the community and, of course, different aspects of #GrowCookShare

A feast of ideas with Alan Robson

Photo credit: all photos in this post were by Paul J Cunningham Photography except for the one of the first tomato picked at West Marsh Community Centre which was taken by Mary Vickers

To learn more about the project and any legacies and developments from it email me.

Post added 24 October 2022

Silence doesn’t mean we’ve been asleep!

Please accept our apologies for this page being so quiet in the last 12 months. We promise we haven’t been asleep. The truth is we’ve been busy little bees in kitchens, community gardens, foodbanks, community centres, and other places around NELincs, as well as helping to produce an exciting food-related project called #EdibleGrimsby.

We want to share all this with you in the next few weeks and months, but in small bite sized pieces so that you don’t get indigestion…

We’ll tell you about more than 12 new #CommunityGrowingNEL gardens which’ve sprung up whilst some pre-existing ones have continued to flourish, a whole range of cookery courses that’ve been run, and some other exciting projects that might be coming to fruition…

We also want to share with you a regular recipe, initially from the #OnePotWonder Slow Cooker series, but also others to help warm you over the winter, and the encourage you in the warmer weather. Email Mary if you have a recipe that you’d like to share.

They always say you should start at the beginning when telling a story, but on Monday we’ll start at a recent ‘end’ – bringing you a summary of what happened for #EdibleGrimsby on 1st October… It was all based around #GrowCookShare

The picture below shows some of the volunteers from the Community Garden at The Trin in Cleethorpes sharing what they’ve grown and cooked with others in their community.

Post added 14 October 2022


Another project I’m involved with is encouraging communities to have a go at growing some of their own food. Some are doing this using land around their community buildings. Others have taken on allotments. Yet others are exploring agreed use of other public, or private, land. If you are interested in exploring this too, then just get in touch via the contact details above.

Post added 07 July 2021

Slow Cooker Recipes 2 & 3 – Sausage Casserole & Sausage Cassoulet

We had 2 slightly different sausage recipes written for us. The second cookery demonstration video combines them, but both recipes are downloadable separately using the links below.

Here is the video:

Links to both recipes:

Post added 09 June 2021

Slow Cooker Recipe 1 – Rice Pudding

The first recipe cookery demonstration is for Rice Pudding.

Here is the video:

Here is the recipe:

Post added: 02 June 2021

The Slow Cooker Project – #OnePotWonders

This has been an exciting project to work on…..

Slow cookers are easy to use once some basics have been explained.  They’re also cheap and efficient to use as far as electricity is concerned.  It’s estimated that an average 3.5 litre slow cooker uses about 1.3 kWh of electricity or 21p to power eight hours of cooking – that’s less that 3p per hour.  They’re also safe enough to be left and for the cooking to happen whilst people are out of the house or otherwise occupied.  Another bonus is that slow cooking tenderises cheaper cuts of meat, whilst also cooking vegetables without them going too mushy.  They also enable batch cooking, effectively making meals even more affordable. These assets are why we’ve christened this project with the hashtag #OnePotWonder

All this means that slow cookers are an ideal tool to assist those who are unable for whatever reason to provide healthy food for themselves and/or their household.  The aim of the Slow Cooker project was to provide households with a slow cooker, plus recipes and cooking demonstrations at no cost.  As Community Food Co-ordinator, I worked with a wide variety of community organisations, and it was them who decided which individuals and households would receive a slow cooker.

It was important that recipients are in an active relationship with the community organisation who nominated them – that way they can receive regular encouragement about healthy eating and cooking for themselves.  Each recipient also received a set of 18 specially chosen recipe cards.  Video cookery demonstrations were produced and posted online.  Some of the organisations have also decided to offer their own cookery lessons once Covid19 regulations allowed face-to-face participation.

Hopefully, this project will enable more people to explore this type of cooking for themselves, enjoy it, and so be encouraged and enabled to cook for themselves more frequently, more cheaply, and more healthily.  Additional hopes are that this will reduce reliance on free food parcels, increase confidence, improve quality of life, encourage healthy eating, and enhance skill development.

Overall, 375 slow cookers plus recipes cards were distributed between March and May 2021, via 21 different local community organisations.  I am grateful to the funders; to Sylvester Keal, who ordered and warehoused all the slow cookers; to Blue Lights Brigade, who delivered both the slow cookers and the recipe card packs to each organisation; to the chefs who contributed recipes; to The Community Shop (part of Company Shop Group) for producing the initial video cookery demonstrations; and to all the community organisations who have engaged with this project so creatively.

The initial 18 recipes will be added to this page bit by bit, and more can be added in future. Let me know if you’ve a recipe you wish to add. Also contact me if you have any questions about the project.

Post added: 02 June 2021

Welcome to this new page all about food!

American restaurateur Guy Fieri once said Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.”.

It is, of course, a reality in life today that not everyone has enough food. That reality takes up a lot of my time as Community Food Co-ordinator in North East Lincolnshire – an important part of my role is to work with the variety of voluntary food providers that we have in NELincs. However, another big part of my role is to encourage & enable both people & projects which help people move away from reliance on ‘free food parcels’.

So, on this page, I’ll sometimes talk about foodbanks and what our local ones are up to, but I’ll also talk about exciting food-related projects, whether these are projects going on locally or ideas that I’ve come across elsewhere, that might be worth us thinking about. These projects might be about cooking food as well as growing it, finding food as well as sharing it, buying food as well as selling it, local food as well as international food – basically anything to do with food and our local communities. The variety is endless….

And you can add to that variety too. If you have something that you would like shared on this page, just get in touch – my contact details via the details above the ideas and content needn’t all be mine – if you have something that you want put on this page, get in touch. My contact details are at the top of the page – I look forward to hearing from you….

Post added: 02 June 2021