Join us to build a community garden in Loughton
by GROW Community Garden (Above + Beyond)
We want to build a community garden in Loughton to bring people together to grow food. Community food growing will improve access to healthy, organic food, promote health and well-being, build new skills and strengthen the local community.
Our vision is to transform a derelict site in Loughton, Essex into a vibrant, inclusive community garden. We hope to hold community events and weekly growing sessions where people of any age, background and ability are welcome. We have big dreams for the community garden and over time we’d love to have training sessions, inclusion for those with disabilities or additional needs, cooking workshops, access to work initiatives, youth engagement – and much more!
But for now, we are just at the beginning of our journey. Last month, Loughton Town Council agreed to lease us a disused plot of land on Pyrles Lane. Our first job is to clear the site and get some basic equipment and infrastructure in place. Then we need to design and develop the site and deliver training for those wanting to learn new skills. To do all this, we need some start-up funding. We are hoping to raise £5000 which will cover:
– Clearing the land, disposing of waste and soil testing
– Garden planning and design
– Shed and tools
– Compost, plants and seeds
– Infrastructure such as a compost toilet, polytunnel and raised beds
– Trainer, training course materials and accreditation fees to deliver accredited training workshops in basic horticultural skills
We would love for you to join us on this exciting journey to create Loughton’s first community garden and appreciate any support you can give!
Restore Community Centre in Loughton plays a pivotal role in the community, offering an open door on Debden Broadway for people to drop in as well as providing advisory and signposting services. We are passionate about community transformation and making a positive impact in people’s lives.
What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
Growing food in community gardens has been widely recognised as being effective for addressing a number of social and environmental issues faced by local communities:
Health and wellbeing – According to the extensive scientific literature, summarised in the 2014 report : ‘The Benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing’ by Garden Organic and Sustain, it is widely recognised that gardening and community food growing can be beneficial for people with mental and physical health issues. Being active outdoors, connecting with other people and the environment can help relieve the symptoms of illness, prevent some conditions, reduce episodes of stress and depression and generally promote a way of life that improves well-being.
Social isolation – Bringing people of any ability, age and background together to work on a community project will benefit people who experience social isolation. Attending growing sessions at the community garden, especially on a regular basis can increase social interactions and connections with other people and build community cohesion. Learning new skills and growing food can provide people with a sense of achievement and build self-confidence.
Food poverty – Emergency food provision through food banks has been on the increase , we are hope that a community garden can not only involve a wide range of people to grow food but will also improve access to locally grown, organic produce. Over time, we hope that we can be part of a wider solution to address food poverty in the community in a way that is inclusive and sustainable.
Environment and food system – Whilst the problems of the current food system are huge such as mass food waste, declining incomes for farmers, marketing of unhealthy food and climate change, our community garden will be a small but positive way to make a contribution to tackling these global issues in our local community.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
According to the Capital Growth’s annual monitoring survey produced in 2014 on London based food growing projects, key motivations for taking part in community food growing were primarily around community building and health and wellbeing. 90% of respondents said a main motivator for involvement was to improve the area and create a sense of community and similar numbers responded by citing a desire to improve their own health and wellbeing as their personal reason for being involved. 86% highlighted learning new skills or helping others to do so as an important driver for involvement.
Around two-thirds said that changing the food system and reducing its impact on the environment were important. Smaller but significant numbers were motivated by both saving money and growing food to sell.
120 growing projects (roughly a third of respondents) in London reported that their project had helped someone into training or employment. 140 people from these projects had gone into employment and 237 had gone on to formal training. This shows the potential that community gardens have to provide work experience and training as well as building self-confidence to enable people to to develop skills to enhance their employment opportunities.
What is your solution?
Loughton Town Council has agreed to lease a plot of unused land to us on Pyrles Lane. We want to transform this land into a vibrant community garden to benefit both the community and the environment. We hope that people of any ability, age or background can come together to learn to grow food and enjoy the social and health benefits of being involved in a community garden.
How will you deliver this?
Our starting point is to raise the money to fund our set up costs. This includes both equipment and infrastructure on the site as well as paying for a trainer and training materials to help us deliver accredited workshops. We will be working closely with OrganicLea – a well established community food growing co-operative in Chingford who will provide us with advice and input around design and planning as well as deliver the training. We also have a team of volunteers who are committed to the making project happen, offers of gifts-in-kind and oversight from Restore Community Centre.