24 January 2021 | by Gemma McFarlane
In Seaford we have a beautiful community garden almost hidden within the Crouch Gardens. The very friendly crew there welcome anyone to join them on a Wednesday or a Saturday morning to look after the garden, meet new friends and learn new skills. www.facebook.com/seafordcommunitygarden/
I find myself in many conversations with people saying how they would love to get involved in growing with other people, maybe because they would like to learn how to grow food from others or they haven’t got much time or space to grow their own. They would also like to do this close to home so they can pop there for a short time, they don’t want to use their car or as a way to get to know their neighbours.
If you are interested in getting involved in community growing, we feel the first step is to find some like-minded people nearby. We have set up a page on our website where you can add your postcode to a map which will show you if there are people who are also interested living nearby. Once there is a small group in one area, we can connect you together.
We can help you identify a space, find the relevant people to speak to, call out for supplies and provide practical help and knowledge if needed. Your details will be kept safe and only used to contact you about the project.
When you visit Brighton, you will notice food growing in the most surprising spaces… on street corners, on rooftops, in hanging baskets – it’s everywhere! It’s not only in Brighton. I was excited to find fruit trees and bushes growing around the Depot in Lewes. I learned they were planted to represent an orchard that once stood in its place.
Brighton has over 70 community gardens! That’s roughly one garden per 4,000 residents. Look into this further and you’ll find food growing spaces all over the country, in fact, all over the world! People are realising the benefits of growing food in the community. It’s good for their health, their pocket and for the planet. By walking past an old flower bed now filled with growing vegetables, will help children and adults to relate more to their food. Doctors are also social prescribing gardening for improving mental health and physical well-being.
Another benefit of community growing is more community eating. As we understand and appreciate where our food comes from, we want to celebrate this together by cooking and sharing our food.
Incredible Edible has motivated and helped community food growing groups around the world. Explore their website for more information. If you are interested in getting involved in community food growing, the Ted talk at the top of this page from one of the founders is inspiring!
Many community gardens want to share their story and encourage others to join in. There are so many useful websites if you want to explore this further with advice about what you’ll need to start, who to contact locally for a space and how to grow your group. You can join networks with other gardens to get ideas and build success.
Here are a few:
In 2009, Harvest, in Brighton & Hove set up with help from Big Lottery Local Food funding. The overarching aim of the project was to increase the amount of food grown by communities in the city by increasing both the land available and the number of people involved. They have produced an in depth report about the aspects of starting up and running food projects in the city. If you are interested in getting involved with a food growing group, I recommend reading the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, Harvest Evaluation Report.
While researching, I found that Brighton council provides a planning advisory note to encourage developers to include space for food growing in new developments. It would be fantastic to see this everywhere.
An inspirational film – The Need to Grow
“We can improve our health by eating fresh organically grown local food that doesn’t include any chemicals, pesticides or nasties, while addressing the combined health, climate and biodiversity emergencies in the process.”