Growing Together | Grow-along

Location: various places around Penarth and the CF64 area, including Kymin Community Gardens, West House Community Garden and workshop venues.

Designer: Sally Hughes

Goal: create a programme of workshops, open sessions and events around three themes: local (climate-friendly) food, wildlife-friendly food growing and climate action, over 45 Saturdays from March 2022 – February 2023 at the Kymin Community Garden and other locations, aiming to involve around 265 people.

Background

The project stems from evidence gathered by GPG on what actions the Penarth community would prioritise by way of environmental action. In January 2020, GPG hosted a community event attended by over 100 people, followed by a public consultation, to develop ideas with the community on how we might address the climate emergency at the local level. The exercise was given wide coverage in the local news media, bringing in contributions from a wide spectrum of local residents including young people. These discussions gave rise to various ideas for new ventures. Among the most enthusiastically received has been the establishment of a growing project for the community, which operates now as Penarth Growing Community. 

In March 2021 we initiated the Growing Together network for local people in Penarth who were keen to grow in their gardens. On sign up we asked people to tell us what sort of growing space they have and what they intended to grow.

We recently put out a survey asking people about the kinds of activities they would like to see us do in the coming year (2022). A significant proportion of respondents stated they’d like to participate in activities to learn about soil, food growing, local and seasonal food cooking and preserving. Many respondents are already taking climate action by choosing fresh, seasonal produce, reducing food waste, thinking about food miles, shopping local – our project aims to encourage more of this in our community.

The results of these two activities have shaped the project described herein.


Approach

Framework: GOBRADIME

Goals, Observation, Boundaries, Resources, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Management (monitoring, maintenance), Evaluate


Goals

 1. Design, develop and deliver a programme of growing, learning and sharing activities including open sessions, workshops and events around local (climate-friendly) food, wildlife-friendly food growing and climate action.

2. Create opportunities for local people and our current and new volunteers to get involved in growing, local living, climate action and nature connection.

3. Involve local people who have an interest in climate-friendly food growing – we will target people who live in the CF64 area, because our project is also about building strong community we are focusing on a small area – we want people to get to know their neighbours.

4. Develop strong local links amongst people to create mutually supportive relationships, contribute to our thriving sharing and gift economy and community self-reliance.

5. Engage people from a range of groups: families, young people, NEET/disengaged young people, working people (hence Saturday as our chosen day), older people, people who experience mental health issues, adults and young people with learning disabilities.



Observations & Objectives

OBSERVATIONS: Community interest in growing and accessing local, sustainable food, and developing community connections and resilience through this, has grown hugely over the last 18 months.

We are witnessing a return to community that’s coming about as in other places after lockdown as people reassess their lives and their priorities. We also see deprivation in our community around access to affordable local healthy organic food and learning about food growing and nature connection.

There are plenty of opportunities locally for people to participate in volunteering, but not many opportunities for people to access structured learning activities to develop their skills and knowledge. 

There are a few small scale community food growing areas in Penarth – most have developed in the last 18 months and there are still more emerging. Our Penarth Green Spaces document shows those we are involved with.

We are currently developing our community garden site at The Kymin in partnership with the Friends of the Kymin group and the Vale of Glamorgan Council. This project will strengthen that work.

We have been running open sessions for volunteers at our community garden site at West House (with Penarth Town Council) for 18 months. We recently delivered a well attended community festival event, which showcased a range of projects locally who are working on climate action. 


OBJECTIVES – What we will do over the year of the project:

All activities on Saturday’s throughout March 2022 – February 2023 (45 weeks, mainly term-time, but some in school summer holidays)

12 monthly ‘Grow – Along’ workshops – with volunteer gardener demonstrators, for 15 signed-up participants, starting in March, at the Kymin Community Garden 

Participants will cultivate a range of skills including understanding soil, growing from seed, nurturing plants, managing pests and diseases, companion planting, growing with nature and the seasons, harvesting, seed saving, composting. 

Each participant will receive a growing pack with a guidance document (how to care for the plants), 6 biodegradable pots, compost and 6 seedlings/plants so they can take them home to grow as the season goes on, sharing their progress with the group in the monthly sessions. We will also plant the same in our community growing spaces, so we can observe and learn together.

12 open sessions – at the Kymin Community Garden – open to all

To maintain the food growing area, community orchard, meadow, pollinator border and other areas within the grounds e.g pagoda, bug hotel, compost (with the VOG and LNP), supporting local people to grow, learn and share.

6 family workshops – with guest facilitators, bookable places, 5 families for each session 

An opportunity for children and their parent/carers to learn about where food comes from, growing food and other topics around nature care and healthy eating.

1 community market event – in early June – public event at West House Community Garden

Bringing a range of local groups, growers and producers together to showcase all things climate action and local food.

4 seasonal foraging walks – with local expert foragers, 15 bookable places, at various locations in town and further afield

4 community conversations – bookable places (20 per session), at venues in a range of places around CF64

6 other skills workshops – with guest facilitators, such as composting, preserving, nature art, cooking with seasonal produce, food, growing & climate action, at locations to suit the needs of the workshop

Plus, in kind contributions as part of our Growing Together network activities:

Seed & plant exchange – town-wide (our successful scheme this year saw 10 exchange boxes located at people’s addresses around town) 

Crop swap – various locations

Bulk buy for compost

In all the workshops we will interweave information and guidance about local food and creating a sustainable food culture, acknowledging that dietary changes are one of the quickest ways many people can lighten their impact on the planet.

We will involve volunteers from our established groups (38 whatsApp members, 137 people signed up to our Growing Together network, 10 core members + 149 members of Friends of the Kymin, and recruit new volunteers and participants. Building a strong, active group of well-trained volunteers to support the food growing and other maintenance of The Kymin and create community cohesion and wellbeing.


Client Interview = survey