Gardening is about far more than just planting seeds and cutting grass. To many it is a hobby and something they spend their whole working week looking forward to; while others use it as a great way of enjoying their retirement. In other cases, it is a way of interacting with their neighbours and other members of the local community and in recent times we’ve seen friendships as well as flowers blooming in our gardens and allotments.
Community gardening has become one of the most popular activities in towns and villages, giving local residents the opportunity to get out and about and have conversations with like minded people while also getting the chance to pursue a hobby they love so dearly and even pick up a few tips along the way. The groups are often organised by volunteers from the local area who are looking at new ways of encouraging people to get together in the community and share their passion for a particular interest – such as gardening in this case.
It doesn’t take a lot to set up a community gardening group and they have been receiving great reviews from towns and villages around the UK for transforming the local area into not only a hive of activity, but in terms of the aesthetic beauty too as reflected in the article by Lia Leendertz on the gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk blog where she looks at the positive impact the work in Golden Hill’s community garden has had on the area.
It is an all-too-common sight to see areas of a community that have fallen into disrepair either because funding has run out or the volunteers who looked after the particular area just don’t have the time available any more through family or work commitments. By getting community gardening to thrive like it has done, these areas have been given a new lease of life and people are coming from all areas to get involved.
You don’t need to be looking for a huge plot of land to get going – as shown with the Wenlock Barn Estate example in Lia’s article which utilized its space and turned it into 35 mini allotments – all you need is a small area big enough for some kind of storage and land that is good enough for planting. If it isn’t, then it’s over to the green-fingered to work their magic. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that you may need the permission of the local council or landowner before you start work.
Towns and cities in the UK are well known for having very little green space that can be used for gardening. High-rise apartment blocks and small suburban areas packed with houses with little or no gardens mean residents rarely have the chance to pursue their interests in gardening and, as such, they lose that passion. Some look to move house after a while to a property that has a garden – either to help them fall back in love with their hobby or maybe because they have a young family – but providing communities with an area they can call their own, with the chance to grow their own vegetables, fruit or plants within the urban environment is one that is proving to be popular throughout the country.
UK residents associate gardening with the countryside and farming communities but, thanks to community gardening groups and willing volunteers, that stereotype is disappearing and increasing numbers of urban and rural gardeners are coming together to develop their communities, meet new friends and get involved in the great outdoors.
If you’re interested in setting up your own community gardening group, there is a really good guide on The Guardian’s website, focussing on the success of Hulme Community Garden Centre in Greater Manchester which explains how the group is funded, how it started and the number of people involved in the project.