We Grow - Growing community whilst growing food

We Grow Forest Row

We Grow connects people who want to grow their own food together with other people in their local area. Since 2020, We Grow has helped 22 food co-ops to get growing together around East Sussex.

Group sizes vary from 3-25 members. A membership can be an individual, a couple, or a family. Groups grow and produce all sorts of things: vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs, mushrooms, meat.

Growing Community Whilst Growing Food

The way that people work together and build new friendships is as valuable and rewarding as growing food – both children and adults learn as a group and learn from each other. Lots of people who have joined a co-op tell us that they’ve made great new friends and their kids have too.

Groups plan the plot and plant together, and will often sit after working with a cuppa or something to eat, and chat. Growing groups also meet regularly with other groups in their local area to swap seeds, seedlings, tools, knowledge and ideas.

Other benefits of growing your own food include better physical and mental health from spending more time outside, nature connection, zero food miles and no food packaging, reducing your food bills, and living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Join We Grow

Would you like to grow your own veg with a group of likeminded people? Join a local food cooperative! Join a growing group on an allotment, garden or land. Or offer to share your garden, allotment or land.

Lewes, Crowborough, Uckfield, Forest Row, East Grinstead, and surrounding villages. Join now to start growing this Spring.

Put in 2-3 hours per week growing together and take home a vegbox every week throughout the year. Save money on food bills and make new friends. Kids can join in too!

If you’d just like to find out more about We Grow and what being part of a growing group involves, visit their Instagram page @wegrow.cic or their Facebook page We Grow, or email [email protected].

We Grow FAQs

What could I grow in a food co-op?

Most co-op groups grow vegetables, but some also grow or produce fruit, herbs, mushrooms, eggs or meat. It’s up to your group and the landowner to chat about and decide what you grow or produce.

I’m offering to share my garden or land. What size does it need to be?

The smallest plot for a group of 3 to grow on and get enough veg for a weekly vegbox all year round
each, is 3m x 15m. Some garden owners have their plot split into beds that are dotted around the
garden, or along fence lines. So it doesn’t need to be one whole plot – you can get creative! There is no maximum sized plot, just that if you want all of your land to be tended, it would need enough
numbers of people to look after it. You can chat to our team more about this when they visit your
garden or land.

Would I need to have gardening experience to join a co-op?

You don’t have to have any gardening experience to join a co-op – being up for working with other
people and learning together is enough. If you’ve grown before, it’s really useful for our team to
know so that we can bring people together with a mix of experience. They will ask you about your
experience when you book to chat with them on the phone.

How much veg would I get from my co-op every week?

With good planning and planting out regularly, groups get a vegbox each, every week. This can be all year round! It’s all about planning well. We Grow recommends good resources to help your group plan, when you start your co-op.

How much time would I need to spend working in a co-op?

Members/ families work together for 2-3 hours per week, plus taking a turn on the watering rota for
dry weeks in Spring/ Summer. This amount of time is enough to produce a vegbox for each member
or family, every week. If your group decides to grow or produce other things, the time needed
changes – it depends how much and which things. You’re welcome to ask for more details about this
when you book a call with one of our team.

How much money does it cost to join We Grow?

We Grow asks for an upfront one-off contribution of £15 or £25. This is to pay our team to connect
you with others to join a co-op, arrange the land viewings, support your group at the start of your
co-op, and to help start off the local network of co-op groups with regular meet-ups. The
contribution is on a sliding scale (so you choose which of the two amounts you want to give). Anyone
who can’t afford to contribute to We Grow and who has connected with us via a Foodbank or a
Community Fridge, is welcomed without contributing. Please contact us at [email protected] to
let us know if you are eligible to join without contributing.

How much money would I need to put in to a co-op if I joined one?

You also need to put in money regularly to your co-op to buy things like seeds, compost, fencing, and
to contribute to local network group meet-ups. The exact amount depends on what’s needed for the garden or land you’re working on. Most groups contribute around £5 per week each, for the first few
months and then much less long-term (once the plot is established). It’s up to your group to chat and
decide on this.

What if I can’t afford to contribute to a co-op?

Please chat with the We Grow team member when they call you. We try to help everyone who wants
to be part of a co-op and we may have ways to support your individual co-op contribution.

What would I get out of a co-op if I join one?

Once the plot is established and veg is growing (usually takes 3-4 months), you could take home a
vegbox every week, year-round. For groups producing herbs, eggs, mushrooms or meat, how much
you get depends on how much your group plans to produce. We Grow advises on this when your
group starts your co-op.

What about being part of the network meet-ups? What does that mean?

Your group would be part of a wider community of other local co-ops. You’d be connected with each
other and invited to join regular meet-ups to swap and share seeds, seedlings, tools and growing tips.

This is optional! But most groups love being part of a wider network as it’s very useful and fun to
meet other local people who are doing what you’re doing.

What benefits are there apart from food, being in a co-op?

The benefits of being part of a co-op are: new friendships for both adults and kids, getting out in the
fresh air every week, not needing to do all the work yourself, being part of a wider community of
co-ops, shared seeds and seedlings, saving money on food bills, less need for supermarket food,
producing your own organic food, working together in a group, and the satisfaction of creating
something beautiful.

If I joined We Grow and went to view some gardens on land what would happen if I didn’t like any of the ones I viewed?

We aim to find everyone on our list a happy place to grow. If you don’t find a group or land that you
like during the viewing weekend, we would work with you to find another local community growing
project that suits you.

What would happen if I started in a co-op and then I didn’t like it?

Most people so far have liked and stayed with the growing co-op that they initially joined. If for any
reason you need to change groups, we would work with you to find another co-op or community
growing project that you like.

What about if I wanted to go on a holiday or take a few breaks whilst being part of a co-op?

That is one of the great things about being in a co-op. unlike an allotment where you’re growing on
your own, you can arrange to cover for each other in a co-op. It’s up to your group to chat and decide on how you want to do this when you first start your co-op together.

What if I couldn’t manage the 2-3 hours per week every week?

Each group has their own way of doing things. Some groups work every single week for 3 hours,
some for 2 hours.. some do every week all year round, others do every week in Spring, Summer and
Autumn and then alternate weeks in Winter (when less needs doing on the plot).. it depends how
much and what you want to grow, so it’s a chat you need to have and negotiate as a group when you
form your co-op. You can chat more about this with our team when they book the phone call with

Can my kids join in with me in a co-op?

Absolutely! Most kids love being part of a co-op and have lots of fun and learn loads too. We Grow
only matches families with other families and we try to match you with other kids of a similar age.
Does everyone need to garden all year round even in the coldest parts of winter or in the rain?
Most people in a co-op garden all year round. As gardeners would say “there is no such thing as bad
weather – just the wrong clothing!” .. getting on layers in the cold or waterproofs in the rain for
gardening can be part of the fun! However, it’s not great for everyone. Especially very young kids or
babies.. it’s up to your group whether you decide to take certain weeks off in the very coldest
months. You can chat more about this with our team when they book the phone call with you.

I don’t have kids or I’m joining without my kids. Can I specifically ask to join a co-op with no kids in

If you’d prefer to join a co-op with just adults, all good! We only match families with other families,
so you would naturally be matched with adults only co-ops for the viewings.

How much does We Grow get involved in our co-op?

We Grow is here to connect you with others who want to grow together, to connect all local groups
together (if they want to join the meet-ups), and to support your co-op to get started (with
recommended resources). We Grow is not here to tell you how to grow, what to grow, or what to do.
We offer a suggestions document when you get started, based on what has tended to work for other
groups and what hasn’t.. but whether your group go with these or do things a different way, is
entirely up to your group to chat about and decide.

I have accessibility needs. How can We Grow help me to find the right co-op?

We ask everyone on our Joining Form if there are any needs we can help with. Our team would chat
with you more about this when they book a phone chat with you and they would then match you to
gardens for the viewings that suit what you need.

Why is We Grow doing this work?

We Grow came to be because a small group of us who been members of food co-ops on other
peoples’ land loved it so much we wanted to help other people do the same! Between us we have a
good mix of skills in community development and community organising, social media promotion,
group work and self-development work, and so we’ve been able to expand this project easily. We
have now trained and mentored a new group of people to join our team and with their skills and
input, the project can carry on growing!

We hope this has answered all your questions. If you want to know more, please watch our 10
minute video about joining a co-op by clicking on the link in our Instagram bio @wegrow.cic or ask us to send you the video via email [email protected]

And do check out the fun that groups so far have had, by looking through some of the posts on our Instagram page @wegrow.cic or our Facebook page We Grow.