It’s all in the detail…

What is our ‘Growing Together ~ Grow-along 2022/23’ project all about?

We are designing, developing and delivering a programme of growing, learning and sharing activities, including open sessions, and workshops, themed around local (climate-friendly) food, wildlife-friendly food growing and climate action.

Throughout the activities we will interweave information and guidance about local food and creating a sustainable and resilient food culture, acknowledging that dietary changes are one of the quickest ways many people can lighten their impact on the planet. We are keen to build a strong, active group of well-trained volunteers to support food growing and maintenance of our community growing sites and create community cohesion and wellbeing.

The defining purpose of the project is to inspire people to grow their own, take part in community growing and volunteering and make healthful choices around food they consume, contributing to climate-friendly local food culture. We see these activities as climate action.

What will we do over the year of the project?
*Seed & Plant Exchange Event

As part of the Food Vale Festival we will host a seed and plant swap, with Friends of Victoria Square.

*12 Monthly ‘Grow-along’ Workshops (Grow food, Eat Well)

We have 15 places each month for local people to learn about food, growing and climate action. For some of the sessions we will invite gardeners and other people with specific skills to share their knowledge with us. Participants will cultivate a range of skills and explore topics such as understanding soil, food choices, growing with nature and the seasons, what good food looks like, companion planting and how our learning is connected to taking action on climate change.

Each participant will receive a range of plants that we will sow and grow together through the season, sharing progress with the group in the monthly sessions. We will plant the same in our community growing spaces, so we can observe and learn together. 

These workshops will take place on the last Saturday of the month from March 2022 – February 2023. We would like to encourage participants to take part in all the sessions, so we can form group bonds and a sense of community, but we recognise that may be difficult for some people. We can be open and flexible to what happens, mostly we’d like to involve a range of people from our local community. To ensure this, some of the sessions will take place at the Food Pod and West House Community Garden, as well as at the Kymin Community Gardens,

*12 Open Sessions at Kymin Community Gardens

A chance to get together to tend the gardens at The Kymin, open to all. We encourage the Friends of the Kymin to take part in these sessions as well as local people and our volunteers.

We will maintain the food growing area (Wild Food Garden on the lower boule court), food forest, community orchard, meadows, and other areas within the grounds, like the pagoda, the bug hotel, compost and woodlands. 

*6 Family Workshops

Taking place in the school holidays, the family sessions will invite 5 families to come together to learn and explore a range of topics, including where food comes from, growing food, food and nature, nature care and healthy eating.

*Community Market Event

In September, we will bring together a range of local groups, producers and growers together to showcase all things local food and climate action.

*4 Seasonal Foraging Walks

Bethan from Welsh Wild Food will guide us through the wild food we find locally. 

*3 Community Conversations

A chance to get together to share our experiences of local food, food growing and climate action.

*6 Skills Workshops

Let’s learn the details together. We will invite guest facilitators to guide us through a range of skills such as basket weaving of garden structures, composting, preserving, nature art, cooking with seasonal produce, setting up a climate action project and maybe even some woodwork. 

The small print…

Who will benefit from the project?

The project will create opportunities for local people and our current and new volunteers to get involved in growing, local living, climate action and nature connection.

We will involve local people who have an interest in climate-friendly food growing – we will target people who live in the CF64 area, because our project is also about building strong community we are focusing on a small area – we want people to get to know their neighbours because we’d like to develop strong local links amongst people to create mutually supportive relationships, contribute to our thriving sharing and gift economy and home and community self-reliance. We will welcome people from outside this area if they choose to participate. 

We seek to engage people from a range of groups: families, young people, NEET/disengaged young people, working people (hence Saturday as our chosen day), older people, people who experience mental health issues, adults and young people with learning disabilities. 

We will work with local groups in areas of socio-economic disadvantage and local organisations to reach those people, including the Food Pod on St Lukes estate, which GPG has established links with, and the Foodbank at Tabs Penarth.

Our project in our community…the why

Community interest in growing and accessing local, sustainable food, and developing community connections and resilience through this, has grown hugely over the last 18 months.

We are witnessing a return to community that’s coming about as in other places after lockdown as people reassess their lives and their priorities. We also see deprivation in our community around access to affordable local healthy organic food and learning about food growing and nature connection.

There are plenty of opportunities locally for people to participate in volunteering, but not many opportunities for people to access structured learning activities to develop their skills and knowledge. 

There are a few small scale community food growing areas in Penarth – most have developed in the last 18 months and there are still more emerging. Our Penarth Green Spaces document shows those we are involved with.

We are currently developing our community garden site at The Kymin in partnership with the Friends of the Kymin group and the Vale of Glamorgan Council. We are forming links with the community growing site at the Food Pod. This project will strengthen that work. We have been running open sessions for volunteers at our community garden site at West House (with Penarth Town Council) for 18 months. We recently delivered a well attended community festival event, which showcased a range of projects locally who are working on climate action. 

Growing Together

Last year we initiated the Growing Together Gardens Network. We had a grant from Penarth Town Council to buy wildflower seeds which we distributed to local people who signed up to the network. We hosted a successful town-wide seed and plant exchange box scheme. The idea was to encourage more people to grow food and spaces for nature in their gardens. Because of Covid and lockdown, we didn’t get to host the events to bring the network together that we would have liked to . Here now, is that opportunity.

We have strong links with the wider food network through Food Vale. We aim to contribute to creating a sustainable food culture locally and in the region. 

There is already a thriving community of growers and volunteers which demonstrates that members of the community are keen to be involved in growing activities. We have a thriving collection of Friends groups in green spaces around town. We’d like to highlight the potential for surplus produce to be donated and shared amongst the wider community, in order to raise awareness of food insecurity and food waste.

How Will our project will make a difference?

We will encourage people to learn about local food, food choices and food growing, and how food and the climate and nature crises are connected, exploring ways in which people can take action towards creating a sustainable local food system. 

We will support people to make climate-friendly choices around food, raising awareness of issues around monocultures, industrial agriculture, pesticides and herbicides and synthetic fertilisers, benefits of seasonal food and organic growing and how our food choices impact the climate and nature. 

Encouraging local people to actively form a new relationship with nature, food and the place they live, fostering a culture of care and responsibility for our environment.

> Encouraging people to learn about local food (choices, growing, preserving, cooking) 

> Measuring outcomes through questionnaires, measuring food footprint at start and end 

> Demonstrating how food and climate are connected

> Exploring benefits of seasonal food, organic growing and how food choices impact 

> Raise awareness of how food is grown and produced 

> Improve access to physical/mental health benefits of growing

> Encourage changes to diet to bring health benefits to individuals and biosphere

> Make growing food accessible by offering free materials and plants

> Reducing food waste through sharing and composting

> Increase the amount of food grown and number of people growing food

> Contributing to food resilience

> Improving access to seasonal food through crop sharing

The nitty gritty…

1. We’ll inspire people to grow, volunteer and make climate-friendly food choices. We see these activities as climate action. We’ll support people to change habits, towards more sustainable lifestyles in the long-term, leading to community level behaviour change.

2. Dietary changes are one of the quickest ways people can lighten their impact. Findings show that a third of emissions are generated by food systems. We know people want to reduce their impact, participation supports this.Many people are being pushed into deprivation. It’s imperative that we plan for local food resilience by promoting good food choices, encouraging people to grow, get involved with community gardens, CSAs, buy from local shops, growers and producers.

3. We’ll make food growing, and awareness of issues around food and climate action, available. We’ll recruit a diverse range of people, bringing separate parts of the community together, building community connections. We’ll reach people through groups and services, making our activities free at the point of delivery, letting people know the value of participation, in economic, group and community terms. Volunteer travel expenses support participation. We’ll celebrate being together in a movement for change by building confidence, and with activities that create group cohesion and social capital.

4. We hear people talking about growing food to provide for their families in what’s shaping up to be an uncertain future. We’ve experienced shortages of food in the supermarkets. We’ll increase access to local food by encouraging people to meet their food needs in many ways, meaning less reliance on supermarket supply chains. Making local food available for people who experience food insecurity is a priority.

5. We’ll train our cohort to grow food and make good food choices, the way they enact these skills supports ongoing climate action. We’ll create an employment opportunity through a coordinator role.

How we will involve our community

In January 2020 we hosted an event attended by 100+ people and a public consultation, to develop ideas with the community on how we might address the climate emergency at local level. Coverage in the local news brought contributions from a spectrum of residents. Food growing was top of the list of actions identified.

We recently surveyed people about activities for 2022. A significant proportion stated they’d like to participate in activities to learn about soil, food growing, seasonal food, cooking and preserving. Many respondents are already taking climate action by choosing seasonal produce, reducing food waste, thinking about food miles, shopping local – our project will encourage more of this.

We will bring together a core group of people to develop activities in line with the community’s needs. We are engaged with a range of groups including ‘Friends of’ park groups, Penarth Youth Action, Penarth Civic Society/Tree Forum, Penarth Business Group, Food Pod, Penarth Climate Action and Shop Local scheme. 

People from these groups will be involved by sharing information to help us recruit participants and volunteers and by volunteering to help us shape and organise activities, as well as attending workshops and taking part in the community market.