Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Supported by: Stackhouse Poland

Description

About the Group and the Community Garden:

The Grapes Hill Community Garden Group (GHCGG) was set up in summer 2009 mainly for the benefit of the residents in the West Pottergate area in Norwich, a designated area of deprivation. Apart from improving a run-down piece of land the group focused on improving physical, mental and emotional health and boosting social interaction within this area. The garden opened to the general public in 2011. The garden has helped turn this undeveloped and overgrown site into an area of beauty for the whole community to use, every day, free of charge. The Group rents out nine raised beds to members of the local community for growing their own vegetables. Five of the beds are designed for wheelchair users. The rest of the garden is based partly on the forest gardening principle where over 50% of the plants are edible. There are many fruit trees, soft fruit bushes, herbs, edible flowers, a wildflower garden and other plants, trees and shrubs to encourage biodiversity in the area. Visitors are invited to “feel free to pick herbs and fruit from the garden, taking just a small share and leaving some for other people and wildlife.”

We have regular task days from early spring to early winter, which includes help from a part-time (currently Aviva funded) gardener offered to the raised bed holders, a families’ growing group and a refugee growing group. Volunteers come to learn or share gardening skills; tools, tea and cake are provided by the GHCGG. We hold several free events throughout the year ranging from gardening and nature themes to family events, theatre and music, community “bring and share” or “Big Lunches”, and celebrations of international culture. The garden hosts garden-related workshops such as an Introduction to Permaculture, beginners gardening courses, introductions to organic gardening, pruning etc. This year saw the successful introduction of a family growing group.

What we would like to do with this fund
The official charitable purpose of the group and the community garden is “providing local residents opportunities to learn or share horticultural skills. Design allows full uses by wheelchair users. Free events and workshops enhance social cohesion by providing fun, education and entertainment for all age groups. Anyone can visit the garden which is open every day of the year free of charge.” The group hopes to enhance community cohesion by providing a place to go for peace and quiet, to sit still or be active, to join in or to meditate to feel part of something and feel proud of it. A big difference the garden makes is with biodiversity and air quality which we hope to maintain. There is an educational aspect as urban dwellers become aware of how easy it is to grow and access fresh fruit and vegetables. It is one small step towards food sustainability. We have expanded our mission in recent years with outreach to young families and the refugee community to help with integration and reduce the sense of isolation such groups may experience. Fundamentally we want to ensure that no one is excluded from the events, workshops and other activities due to income restraints, lack of mobility or poor health and we hope that the volunteering opportunities can help tackle social isolation and help create a sense of well- being on an individual and community basis. We offer free training to regular volunteers that may help with future employment opportunities.

Why we think this project is needed in this area
The immediate area comprises 500 households, mainly social housing in flats with no gardens and is designated as an area of deprivation* please see appendix for research and statistics. It is just outside the inner ring road of Norwich, a busy urban area with lots of traffic noise and air pollution. Since 2009 it has seen a growing migrant population. There are some issues with integration.

Grapes Hill Community Garden Group

Moment of Pride

This strong community of interest combined with the pressures that the geographical community experiences presents the community garden with opportunities of bringing people together, tackling loneliness, encouraging integration, celebrating diversity, and providing educational opportunities for all

Location: Norwich