Hi there, I’m Isla Horton, the Director and one of the co-founders of Grow Cardiff. We are a tenacious, grassroots charity, developed by local people to improve the health and wellbeing of people across Cardiff through community gardening. We aim to provide hands-on support to help people of all ages come together to create edible, wildlife-friendly growing spaces across the city and beyond. We aim to make a transformational impact on people’s physical and mental health, isolation and loneliness, challenging urban inequalities, and in particular supporting those who are on the margins of society and most in need.
We deliver our aims through:
- Supporting community garden projects
- Delivering Grow Well – an award-winning social prescribing to therapeutic community gardens project in partnership with the SW Cardiff GP Cluster
- Delivering our Educational programme to nurseries, primary & secondary schools e.g. Edible Playgrounds
- Mentoring and Consultancy
- Sustaining and Developing our charity
We are partnering with Renew because we share their pressing concern for immediate action to tackle climate change. We appreciate that for many people this feels like an overwhelming problem but recognise that small actions of local communities working together can make a lasting impact that mitigates against this and helps communities thrive.
Why are you drawn to this area of work?
I love meeting new people, listening and helping them to explore their ideas or challenges. So many people have helped me and Grow Cardiff along our journey, that is my absolute pleasure to help others, to share our experiences – and avoid some of the same pitfalls – you name it we’ve fallen into it! Since I began work at Riverside Community Garden 10 years ago I have helped many schools, community groups, individuals and groups from the third sector, public sector and local authority. Growing is a contagious activity (!) Once you start it brings so much joy and healing – so I am very keen to share the practicalities of community gardening. Plants are relatively easy to work with – people are much harder! I’m keen to share how we make our community gardens safe, thriving spaces – something that takes real skill and time to develop. I have particular expertise in supporting schools/nurseries and setting up social prescribing to therapeutic community gardens. I also do 99% of the fund raising for the charity, setting up projects and contracts, so I have a lot of empathy and experience in supporting those who are hitting barriers. I am passionate about this work and would love to support others to develop similar projects in their neck of the woods.
What is your vision of your region in 2050?
My vision is that everyone in Wales has access to rich, biodiverse experiences of nature right on their doorstep; where every child knows the names of trees and birds and carries on caring for them and their habitats right into old age. Part of the solution for this is community gardens: that everyone can walk out their front door and travel a short distance to a local community space full of homegrown delicious veggies, fruits, herbs and salads. I would love every school in Cardiff to have its own community garden where everyone works together to grow food and increase habitats and foods for pollinators: people and nature thriving together