AuSome GrowSome CIC was set up in August 2020 and is a community interest company. We are passionate about 1) creating food using sustainable technology and 2) making difference to the individuals on the autism spectrum, with additional learning needs and facing exclusion by providing opportunities for training and employment in our hydroponic ‘farms’ which will use the soilless growth of plants in an indoor place.
The idea was conceived in January 2019 by the founder-director Dr Anita Yakkundi while she was working on a EU fellowship at Dublin. She heard about the therapeutic value of social farming and was trying to find suitable options for her autistic daughter, who doesn’t not like to get her hands in the soil or mud.
She has since researched the various hydroponics systems and visited urban farms in UK, photographed at visit to urban farm in London. She has connected with the College of Agriculture and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Northern Ireland and the UK urban Agritech and realised the potential of hydroponics in cultivation of green produce all year to provide a local supply. She now wishes to set up the farm and training centre.
We aim to set up the container farms and grow green produce and develop sustainable models of local source of food cultivation using the all year-round hydroponic production. reducing food imports and offer this as a local community hub to not just grow food but also raise awareness of healthy eating in the community.
We aim to use this platform as a training and employment for young adults who lack opportunities due to their learning or physical difficulty and those suffering mental health, to improve their social inclusion and quality of life. We strive to make our centre inclusive to all ability and will generate opportunities tailored to various learning ability. The founder-director will harness her training in autism, and behaviour analysis to implement the training elements.
We will deliver non-accredited and accredited training programmes in hydroponic cultivation. We will create employment opportunities and provide work placements and training opportunities within our centre for adults with learning disabilities and those on the autism spectrum encompassing all abilities. Individuals will benefit from training in hydroponic cultivation, social entrepreneurship and co-production. We will reduce social isolation and exclusion often experienced by vulnerable individuals within disadvantaged communities, providing our service users with purpose in life that will boost their self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
At AuSome GrowSome, we aim to produce a range of salads and herbs for sale to retail or wholesale as we increase our capacity.
Some of the produce that we will plan to grow are
Salads like kale, spinach, Rocket, lettuce, rainbow chard.
Herbs: basil, coriander.
Microgreens: mustards, fennel, coriander, chives, sage
The profits generated through the sale of our produce will be used to generate training courses for our autism learner population
Our courses will be targeted to 16-25 y on the autism spectrum. We will stratify the courses into three levels to suit the learner population and work iteratively to adapt the training to each individuals learning ability.
AuSome GrowSome will aim to apply behaviour analytical techniques to impart the learning modules. The courses will be implemented by behaviour therapists having experience in autism and varying learning needs.
Where are we now?
We are currently developing the technology through our knowledge providers at CAFRE through the innovation voucher. We are optimising growth of rainbow lettuce, Chard and herbs like coriander and basil and micro-greens using the horizontal stacks and vertical zip grow towers.