What have Common Cause been up to?

Common Cause is a not-for-profit social enterprise that for 30 years has been supporting our local food growing economy and community well-being through a range of inspiring food-growing projects. Director Topsy Jewell gives a round-up of what’s been happening.

Lewes Farmers Market

The Market has been run as a not-for-profit venture by Common Cause Co-operative since 1998. And it’s just been named Market of the Year 2021 in the Sussex Food and Drinks awards! We moved in the middle of lockdown last year from Cliffe Precinct in Lewes to the adjacent Friars Walk car park to give more room for social distancing, to continue to support our local producers and to ensure shoppers had the choice of buying local in a safe way.

The market is thriving in its new location where there is plenty of space for people to meet and chat as well as buy delicious freshly produced foods, flowers, wool and wood crafts.  All the produce is made, grown or reared in Sussex by small scale businesses, some who have been with us for many years, others who, as recent start-ups, we are supporting to grow. Come and shop at the Market on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, 9am to 1pm.


Lewes House Garden Project

Lewes House Garden Project has had a second very successful year. We run supported group sessions on a Tuesday, combining horticultural therapy with renovation of this historic garden. The project was initiated in partnership with the GP surgeries and we continue to work closely with social prescribers.

Under lockdown, sessions in the garden stopped and were replaced with ‘gardening visits’ – brief gardening support and conversation – for the most isolated, often elderly, who lost their usual activities and social networks.  We have built up a team of volunteers to help with gardening and also to support the most vulnerable attendees, including those with dementia.


Ringmer Community Orchard

The orchard was planted originally as part of a village plan to tackle climate change. It has grown to be a community orchard promoting heritage fruit trees managed organically, improving biodiversity, and supporting increased access to fresh local food. Members manage the orchard, the trees and wildflower meadow, and take a share of the harvest.

Fruit is pressed to make juice and both fruit and juice are sold through local markets and shops in Ringmer and Lewes. We also supply local food banks. The Orchard has been used for therapeutic horticulture, diversion from crime, as an education resource for children and is a focal point of community contact and activity.


Lewes Community Allotment

Lewes  Community Allotment is a large shared plot with a small group of members who work together to cultivate it. They share tasks, planning, and the produce – a wide range of vegetables and fruit. Members share responsibility for managing this lovely site on the edge of the Downs, as part of an informal self-led group. Wildlife gardening is key and the site hosts an abundance of pollinating insects, frogs and lizards. The allotment is also used by other groups for eco-therapy sessions.  Volunteers from Lewes Community Allotment have also helped to revive the raised beds created by Fitzjohn’s Food Bank for their members. Carrots, tomatoes, chard, beans and courgettes were amongst the fresh produce picked by Food Bank members this summer.  We can now invite new members to the allotment.

For more information about any of these projects or to get involved, contact commoncausecoop@gmail.com.




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