Social Farms & Garden exists to support and develop community-based food and fibre production in all its forms including community gardens, allotments, community/city farms, community forests and woodlands, Care Farms and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects. The organisations has a long track record of supporting projects in their specific areas. It was established in 1980 to support community farms and gardens across the UK. It has Welsh offices in Cardiff, Newtown & Bangor along with other UK offices. We are well placed to reach a range of community groups, both through the community growing groups we support and using our range of connections in the sector. We have a long standing relationship with Renew Wales and have some overlap of similar work in certain areas. As a Development Worker, I support community growing groups across South Wales from a couple of planters at the end of a street to large community garden projects. I provide support in a range of areas outlined in the next section.
Why are you drawn to this area of work, and how have you helped community groups take action in the past?
I am personally very interested in climate change and sustainability and recently completed my Carbon Literacy training with the Carbon Literacy Project. I have a background in landscape design and horticulture and have a good level of knowledge of all these areas.
As a Development Worker, I provide support in the following areas:
- Engaging with the local community and attracting new volunteers
- Improving current facilities and features or installing new ones
- Horticultural advice, training and workshops
- Visits to other projects to gain knowledge
- Arranging mentoring days using one of our dedicated mentors
- Funding applications
- Environmental sustainability
I also signpost groups onto our specialist advisers on land and lease issues, business planning, income generation and social enterprise. I actively encourage the groups I support to use sustainable methods such as recycling materials, water collection and composting, minimising use of chemicals and maximising food production where appropriate. I have recently completed my training with Keep Wales Tidy to become a Green Flag Judge and this will broaden my range connections in Wales and reinforce my knowledge of environmental sustainability.
What’s your vision of the area where you live and/or work in 2050? What will have changed and how will we have got there?
I would like to see a lot more people involved in growing food, whether it’s in their own gardens, on allotments or as part of a community growing group. I run a community growing project in the village where I live and am currently working to reach more people with fresh produce through our local food bank. I’d like to see this happening all over the country.
It will be increasingly important for people to be using renewable energy and at the very lease use an energy supplier committed to this as I now do. Water collection and flood prevention will also be very important and landscaping and plant choices should be a focus to go some way towards this, e.g choosing plants able to reduce waterlogging on flood plains and others able to cope with long periods of drought and heat. People should find it easier to collect rainwater to use in gardens, maybe with subsidised or free water butts.