Women's Skills Exchange at urban Community Garden

by Susannah in Ipswich, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 9th March 2020 we successfully raised £1,086 with 29 supporters in 111 days

To develop a dynamic project to encourage women of all abilities and backgrounds to learn, share skills, and develop new opportunities.

by Susannah in Ipswich, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

We will extend and improve facilities to enable more women to benefit from skills share such as carpentry and woodworking, cooking and processing fresh produce.

We will increase regularity of our market and  pop-up cafe.

We will help women set up their own activities and events.

We will help women towards enterprise and employment.

Women with attitude

We are urban community gardeners who would like to develop a Women's Skills Exchange at an established community garden project. We are based in an area of high urban deprivation in a town where almost a fifth of the population is from ethnic minorities and more than 70 languages are spoken.  

Share and learn

We would like to encourage disadvantaged women of all abilities and ethnicities to learn, share skills, and develop new opportunities for themselves.  We want to encourage single mums, women with disabilities and/ or mental health issues, career changers, retired professionals, women who are isolated, refugees and asylum seekers and women at the fringes of society because of a different cultural heritage to get involved. 

What's all the buzz about?

The project will include gardening, growing veg, environmental conservation and beekeeping, a Women's Shed for carpentry and construction, cooking from scratch with fresh produce, jam-making, apple-pressing and preserving and pickling, crafts, recycling and upcycling, and a community cafe and market to showcase and sell what we have grown and made. 

Step by step 

Existing female volunteers will act as “Garden Companions” to help newcomers settle in and learn skills. Sharing forums initiated and led by participants - such as flower arranging, edible hanging baskets, making bee-related products, cooking around the world - will enable participants both to learn and share their skills and knowledge. 

Celebrate good times

Central to the project will be a celebration day, with a multi-cultural feast harvested, prepared and cooked on site, with a chance for more women to visit the garden and get involved. 

As participants gain confidence, they will be encouraged to develop an enterprising idea, which the project will help them evaluate and take forward. This could be something as simple as holding a market stand of home-made goods; to running a pop-up cafe at our market events; window-sill micro-veg for people living in flats; to pickling/ processing vegetables for year-round goodness. 

Participants will plan and hold a series of community garden produce and crafts markets to sell or showcase what they have grown/ made, getting more local people involved. 


The project will bring women together in an active way to learn and share skills and improve their health and well-being in a welcoming environment. Women will be able to engage and develop at a pace to suit them, fitting around responsibilities of home and children, and doing as much as they are able. It will bring older women and younger women together in a spirit of sharing and co-operation. It will give existing female volunteers a sense of pride and satisfaction as they pass on their skills to new participants. At a personal level, the Women's Skills Exchange will develop skills and confidence, and break down social isolation. 

At a wider level, it will foster a cohesive society and break down barriers between people from different backgrounds or ethnic groups. It will empower more people to develop and enjoy an urban green space. For the community garden itself, it will tap into local skills to diversify both activities and production.

The grant will pay for staff to plan and run the project. It will pay for rent for allotment plots and our market venue. It will pay for resources such as seeds and compost, cooking materials and timber, beekeeping supplies and craft materials. It will pay for volunteer training (first aid, manual handling, machinery), and expenses (travel, Personal Protective Equipment).

Breaking down barriers

From our work in the past 12 years, we know women face barriers to participation, such as childcare responsibilities, lack of confidence, home duties; women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities may face additional barriers, including shyness, lack of transport, unwillingness to work alongside men, a feeling of isolation through being unable to speak English, and cultural observances, such as fasting and praying. Ipswich has a large working age population 65.7% (87,566) compared with the rest of Suffolk 61.0%. However, 5,500 (5.7%) residents have never worked or are long-term unemployed. 33.3% (1,850) of this group are lone parents, of which 1,700 are female lone parents (State of Ipswich Report 2014).

Building confidence

The Women’s Skills Exchange will help disadvantaged women overcome barriers such as lack of confidence, lack of self-esteem or lack of opportunity/ education and skills by offering learning and social opportunities in a welcoming, inclusive community setting. It will offer opportunities for women of all ages, for example, women responsible for young children and older women who live alone. It will give BAME women a chance to make friends and contacts outside their own communities. Its flexibility will mean women with caring responsibilities or cultural sensitivities will be able to participate.

 A volunteer said: "The community garden has been a revelation to me. I like gardening and I love wildlife and I feel I can connect with both through this organisation. Its lovely to find like-minded people to interact with and the positive attitude that is maintained is heart-warming."


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£60 or more

0 of 10 claimed

Day in the Garden

With this reward you'll receive all previous rewards at a discount!: 'Adopt-A-Bee', 'Souper Time', 'Bee-Friendly Plant', 'Gardening Masterclass' & 'Bee Safari'. You'll receive vouchers that you can use to redeem your rewards.

£4 or more


Adopt one of our 400,000 honey bees, and help with the upkeep of the bees. You'll receive an 'Adopt-A-Bee Pack', filled with goodies!

£10 or more

Souper Time

Enjoy some homemade soup made with fresh produce, and a piece of cake at one of our community markets. You'll receive a voucher that you can use to redeem your meal.

£10 or more

Bee-Friendly Plant

A beautiful plant to brighten up your garden and attract bees and other pollinators. You'll receive a voucher that you can use to redeem your plant - collection from one of our gardens this spring.

£20 or more

0 of 20 claimed

Gardening Masterclass

Get to know the basics of gardening, plant selection and growing veg at our inspiring community garden. You'll receive a voucher that you can use to redeem your reward.

£30 or more

0 of 20 claimed

Bee Safari

Bee amazed by the wonderful world of bees: a tour of our community bee hives led by some of our female beekeepers, with honey tasting and finding the flowers that the bees forage on! You'll receive a voucher that you can use to redeem your reward.

£100 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Day in the Garden for two!

With this reward you'll receive 2 copies of all previous rewards at an extra discounted rate for your & a friend!: 'Adopt-A-Bee', 'Souper Time', 'Bee-Friendly Plant', 'Gardening Masterclass' & 'Bee Safari'. You'll receive vouchers that you can use to redeem your rewards.

£1,000 or more

Friend of ActivGardens

You'll have a plaque with your name displayed at the community garden as a 'Friend of ActivGardens', as well as vouchers for all previous rewards: 'Adopt-A-Bee', 'Souper Time', 'Bee-Friendly Plant', 'Gardening Masterclass' & 'Bee Safari'. You'll receive vouchers that you can use to redeem your rewards.

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