The benefits of community food growing

Groundwork has been working closely with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing to support a variety of different community based growing groups across Rochdale.

Under the project name ‘Edible Neighbourhoods’, we have been working hard to support local groups that have an interest in food growing, helping them to develop previously unloved areas and create a safe and secure environment for present and future generations to learn about food growing and the natural world.

Through the project, we have worked with three different groups across Rochdale; a Junior Wardens group in Milnrow, an adult gardening group in Falinge and a volunteer led community garden in Kirkholt.

Potato harvesting_aIn Milnrow we have introduced a group of young people to food growing and have ran activity sessions to encourage the group to explore the garden. We have built insect homes, a willow dome, planted and harvested broccoli, potatoes, beans, carrots and fruit berries as well as been on trips to other community growing projects to get inspiration. The team have drawn up a growing plan for next year and are all ready to hit the ground running!

20140910-0010At Q Gardens in Kirkholt we have helped to build two poly tunnels so that volunteers can continue growing food over the winter; several new raised beds for different groups, including a local Sure Start Centre and the local Girl Guides group, starting the running of a cooking course to help volunteers learn healthy and tasty ways to cook the food they grow and helping to put in place a growing plan for the next year so that they can continue to use permaculture principles such as crop rotation and companion planting to grow fresh, organic fruit and veg.

As of November 2014 the community garden at Q Gardens will be solely volunteer ran, after two years of support from Groundwork. With a core group of volunteers and wide ranging engagement with the local community, the successes we have already had look set to grow and grow!

Food Growing and Health

Michael, one of our regular volunteers at Q Gardens suffers from Fibromyalgia, a long term health condition that can cause pain all over the body and can cause chronic fatigue, muscle stiffness and problems with memory and concentration.

Michael spoke to us before coming to Q Gardens about how his condition made him anxious and how he found it hard to meet new people, but since being involved with the community garden and working with the volunteers on the site, Michael told us that the experience has made a big impact on his life, saying that;

“[Q Gardens has] given me a purpose to go out and do something in the community. Before Q gardens, I was getting depressed. With my condition I didn’t have the confidence to go out. I was anxious around new people but the group has helped me interact with different people and feel excited about meeting new people. Being involved with Q Gardens has changed everything for me. I look forward to going each week.”

Community based food growing

Community based food growing is an empowering exercise. It frees people from relying solely on supermarket food, especially in areas where there is inadequate local shopping and people cannot always afford the cost of travel into town. It provides a great way to improve the quality of food we eat, which in turn helps to improve our own health.

Equally, community based food growing helps to create a support network for people that not only provides advice on food growing but also leads the way to developing new friendships, helping people to get out of the house and get active, as well as having a positive impact on the environment!

20140819-0021 - Group shot

Tobias Jones, project officer for Edible Neighbourhoods
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