Grow Community Gardens

Grow offers opportunities for people of all ages and ability to get involved with Growing Food and Connecting with their community.

The Start

Grow started in 2008 with just 3 people on an organic farm outside of Belfast. Since then Grow has established two very successful Community Gardens ‚ one in an urban setting in North Belfast at the Waterworks and one situated in an organic Farm in Helen’s Bay.

When Siobhan set out to create the first Grow Community Garden, her aim was to enable people to experience the benefits of growing food, working outside with the soil while making friends and building a strong sense of community.

Our sites

The first Grow project began in April 2009 with a small grant from the Big Lottery Fund. This project targeted people who had suffered from stress, anxiety or depression enabling them to work together to create an organic community garden, growing their own vegetables and taking home the produce.

After two years of support from Grow the garden at Helen’s Bay Organic Farm is now self-sustaining with a number of groups utilising the site for a range of community garden initiatives. One of the projects involves local families coming together to grow their Christmas Dinner. If you are interested in getting involved with Helen’s Bay Community Garden contact Miriam at 07577979057 or email helensbaycommunitygarden@gmail.com

Building on our first garden, our second project, Grow Waterworks has developed a community garden in the Waterworks in North Belfast. This project, funded through the Peace III programme focuses on peace building and promoting good relations through community gardening. It includes asylum seekers and refugees living in North Belfast. This project works in partnership with Belfast City Council, Bryson House, the WEA, the Organic Centre and others.

Healthy eating and cooking

In addition to promoting community gardens we will promote healthy cooking and eating as another key objective. Focusing on reducing costs by growing your own and tackling food poverty we plan ensure that people on low budgets benefit from growing and eating locally produced organic fruit and vegetables which can often be cost prohibitive from more commercial sources.

We run cooking demonstrations and healthy eating workshops as part of our Community Gardens. For our cook days we harvest what we grow and then local chefs cook it on site taking questions, providing recipies and eating it with participants. We also run other events where participants cook with the produce grown in the garden. Courgette soup, courgette cake, courgette fritters…and the list continues

Community Development

All of what we do will have community building and eco-therapy at its heart so whether working with a community to reclaim some land and create an edible organic garden, working with older people in a residential setting or developing projects to tackle food poverty we believe our work will not only improve the health and well being of those individuals involved but also act as a springboard for community development and action.

We will support, represent and promote community-managed gardens, allotments and other green spaces, creating opportunities for local communities to grow. We will work with these community groups to help empower local people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to build better communities, often in deprived areas, and to make a positive impact on their surrounding environment.

We will also promote community gardens and urban green spaces demonstrating their value with decision-makers, funders, the public and the media.

Our work contributes to creating better communities across the Northern Ireland in both urban and isolated rural areas. Groups are usually established in response to a lack of access to green space combined with a desire to encourage strong community relationships and an awareness of farming and gardening.

Grow offers a unique opportunity to people to reconnect with their community and learn how to grow their own food

  • No experience necessary to get involved
  • Work alongside an experienced community gardener each week learning how to grow vegetables and flowers
  • Improving health and wellbeing through working outside and connecting with others
  • Take part in as little or as much as you want
  • Community space, connecting people to people and the community

Vision

We envisage a world:

  • where people are healthy in mind, body and spirit;
  • where they live in diverse, inclusive communities, within which the unique contribution of each is respected and valued;
  • where everyone has ready access to healthy nutritious organically grown food;
  • where our environment is lush and beautiful and
  • where society is founded on principles of equality and sustainable development

Mission

Grow is a registered charity which supports the development of healthy inclusive communities in Northern Ireland. We do this through promoting and developing organic community gardens and initiatives to address food poverty.

We work with and empower people of all backgrounds and abilities in order to promote well being, build community cohesion and develop organic gardening skills and knowledge.

We seek to support community leadership and ownership through working alongside people to create the space within which individuals and communities can flourish. We celebrate diversity and actively work to promote social justice, address inequalities and tackle poverty.

We aim to build an evidence base which will influence our political leaders to make decisions which take account of the value of organic gardening, the need to address food insecurity in our communities and the imperative of developing strategies for sustainable development.

Strategic goals

To support the development of healthy, inclusive communities through working in partnership with them to create organic community gardens.

To develop skills and knowledge in relation to organic gardening and healthy eating, within communities.

To promote and increase awareness of the benefits of organic community gardening; the value of food security; and the importance of sustainable development.

To advise public authorities and community / voluntary groups on the development of strategies and action plans for creating organic community gardens and addressing food poverty.

To develop a robust, transparent, accountable, well-managed organisation which has effective administrative and financial systems and achieves its goals.

GROW Board

Grow is a registered charity. We have an active board who oversee the work of the organisation and fully understand and comply with best practice in terms of governance.

Board Members

  • Ms A Flynn
  • Mr A Kerr
  • Ms E Haughey
  • Ms U Duffy
  • Dr E Mitchell
  • Ms J Maghie
  • Mr M Reid
  • Mr T Doyle
  • Ms L McAree