Organic horticultural charity, Garden Organic, is calling on the kindness of Londoners to save a community project which has been improving the lives of people in Southwark and is about to run out of funding.

The project, run by Garden Organic in the London Borough of Southwark, was originally due to end in the autumn but after seeing the impact it has had the charity are now appealing for funds to continue its volunteer-led work teaching children and families many of whom are relying on food banks, how to grow and cook their own organic food.

Since 2016, a team of thirty volunteers has been teaching people in Southwark who are at high risk of experiencing food poverty how to grow their own fruit and vegetables, even in the smallest of spaces and how to use them to make nutritious meals.

The volunteers teach a variety of organic growing techniques in order to support residents throughout the growing season, discuss the benefits of "growing your own" food, offer organic horticultural advice and ensure new growers have access to the information and resources they need. Master Gardeners are joined by trained volunteer Food Buddies who chat to the public about healthy eating and lifestyle choices, encouraging them to attend workshops to increase their knowledge and resilience to food poverty.

The original pilot was funded by the Hirschmann Foundation and despite its success helping many hundreds of Southwark residents it is in danger of winding up just when people are really starting to feel the benefits.

Debbie Mitchener, Garden Organic’s project co-ordinator, said: “We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved through this project and it is heart-breaking to think it could come to an end in a matter of weeks.

“I have people begging me to continue our organic growing classes and it’s amazing to see organic crops growing in many high rise London flats.

“The uplifting power of watching something grow from a tiny seed to something you can eat is something many of us take for granted. But I have seen first-hand how transformational something as simple as planting seeds in a yoghurt pot can be for someone who is living in a tiny room with no outside space.

“One gentleman I recently met was a refugee who used to grow fantastic crops in his home country of Somalia. He was struggling to adapt to his new situation in a bedsit in London and was in desperate need of help. We convinced him to sow some seeds in a pot made of newspaper and explained how he could grow it by his window. He walked away with a huge smile on his face, carrying his pot and said “at least I have something to look after now."

A success story for the project has been its work in schools including running garden clubs. One school now has a waiting list of 40 children wishing to join with many children having started out not being able to identify a tomato to now cooking healthy soups with their home grown produce. Around one in four children at the schools Garden Organic is working with are receiving a free school meal, which often means they aren’t getting another meal at home after school. The organic fruit and veg they eat from the school garden aren't just a snack; they make a big difference to the health of the children.

Garden Organic is hoping to raise £7,500 to run the project for at least one more year with ultimate ambitions to raise £75,000 to expand the project take on staff and additional volunteers.