We did it
On 7th December 2021 we successfully raised £9,497 with 84 supporters in 42 days

To create environmental & social change by expanding our Growing Communities Network.

by Kevin Thomas in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, United Kingdom

How you helped us get here

About a year ago I had an idea that I wanted to do something that was environmentally positive and came up with the notion of being a changemaker, and in October 2020 we ran our first crowdfunder with Aviva. This was enough to get our project off the ground.  So a big thank you if you were one of those people who donated.  

Here are our first two projects:

1634023626_co1.jpgSea Mills Primary School - Where we created a small orchard and added some raised beds for community growing.   The Orchard is doing well and we have just carried our annual review of the growing area and are supplying a new planting plan to develop the growing and improve biodiversity by companion planting and the positioning of pollinators. 

100 native broadleaf trees planted in support of a great woodland project run by Curry Woods Conservation Trust. Click here to find out more. 1634024484_20210125_124827.jpg

What happened next? 

During the last 12 months, we explored ways in which we could link all the positive environmental aspects of what we were doing to positive social outcomes.  Click on this link to see a short infographic

This led us to create our Growing Communities Network. If you didn't see the map, here it is.  From those 2 initial projects, we now have or have planned a total of 33 projects which I think indicates just how committed One Planet Matters is in creating change.  Not only do these projects support positive environmental outcomes but for those actually involved in the growing,  there are clear mental health and wellbeing benefits as well.   The last part of the jigsaw for us was to work out how we could also make a social difference.

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The idea is simple  - We create local networks that consist of our growing spaces and school and community orchards.  Within those areas, we work to improve biodiversity by planting wildflower meadows. We also ensure that biodiversity was embedded within all our growing spaces by providing pollinators and companion planting where possible.  To expand the network, we support other groups who become part of the community. Some examples of groups we have supported, by the provision of materials,  trees, raised beds, seeds, and plants include:  

The last part of the jigsaw for us was to work out how we could also make a social difference. We did this by asking our communities to identify groups within their areas that thought would benefit by being supported with fresh healthy produce.  So far, food banks, care homes, single parent cooking classes, etc have been identified.  

This is really exciting and to complete this we are developing an interactive app that will also allow allotment holders & households to identify as collection points. This simple but effective app/interactive map will bring even more people into the growing community and deliver fresh healthy food to many more families. We have already started to see this happen. 

Here are students from Bath College picking fruit for others (we are developing a growing area for students and the community in collaboration with Bath College):

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  Here is a nice message we received from the local food bank:

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So what is next and what will your donations be spent on?

Between November and January, we will be planting 13 school and community orchards and developing more Growing spaces. 

We have plans to develop 3 hubs.  What is the purpose of a Hub?   As our Growing Communities Network grows we will be creating a  geographic focal point.  This will be a place that will have a  large polytunnel that can be used to create seedlings that will be passed out to the network.  It will be a community area open to all but where our volunteers can organise educational events.  The hub might also be a place to develop community composting schemes, wormeries and organise growing and cooking events for the community.  So as you can see there is plenty to be getting on with - we just need your support.  Here are some pics of some of the larger community projects that we are involved in:

Collaboration with Bath College to engage in supporting student growing activities but also to develop this old horticultural course growing area into a community space.

Frenchay Growing Community - This is a really exciting project where we will turn this space into a vibrant growing area where the community can come together.  There are no barriers to growing and the location is stunning.  It will link in with our community orchards and other growing areas in the South Glos area and we hope to make it one of our hubs.  

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St Augustines Church Community Garden - This project stalled and we will be working with Chesterfield Council to restart the project. Our focus will be to improve biodiversity and create a wonderful community space - the church is also the site of a food bank that we support already.  1634061534_cheterfield_.jpeg

Your donations will help to support the development of a volunteer network which will be needed to help develop our growing communities network.  We will be providing information sheets on how to build ponds, bug hotels, etc, and supporting volunteers in gaining skills such as pruning fruit trees, which is rather handy!  Here is our friend Rob who provides many of our traditional varieties of fruit trees talking about tree care. He is Mr fruitastic !!

Our aim is to create a national network of Growing Communities.  The network supports environmental change with improved biodiversity,  lots of wonderful fragrant bee-loving fruit trees with wildflower meadow development where possible.  Within the growing communities there will be pollinating plants and plans for companion planting, community composting and worm sharing (that does sound a little dubious) but they really are great at breaking down organic matter.

For those involved in the community activities and acting as volunteers, there are clear mental health and wellbeing benefits, but the beauty of our vision is that it also serves a social purpose, supporting others.   Please continue to help us make a difference by supporting our work in any way that you can.

Please donate today and be a change maker.

Thank you 


Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£150 or more

Pick of the crop

Your donation will allow us to plant approximately 10 fruit trees and in return, we will provide you with this Christmas gift https://socialstoriesclub.com/collections/our-gift-boxes/products/conscious-collection for either you or a loved one

£20 or more

Free reusable bamboo fibre cup

We will send you 2 keep cups - If you have one then pass it on.

£75 or more

You're a change maker

You will receive an environmentally friendly created by our friends at Rapanui https://rapanuiclothing.com/ which will have our small flower logo and the words change-maker wrapped around the small but beautiful logo

£300 or more

Totally wild

We will organise a day out where you will forage and cook. See details here . https://totallywilduk.co.uk/foraging-courses/


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