The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens has been awarded nearly £97,000 of National Lottery funding to develop six key areas that will support community growing projects and create a legacy for the Growing Together initiative.
The grant has been made by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It will be used to achieve a range of ambitions, including encouraging workplace growing, support for refugees and asylum seekers, and getting more land into community use. The Growing Together initiative was set up by FCFCG in 2013 to help unlock income, land and skills for community groups across the UK. The programme supports local people to develop business skills and offer advice on funding approaches.
Growing Together has been instrumental in helping small, local community growing groups learn about becoming financially sustainable. The project received over £800,000 of National Lottery funding in 2014 and this final grant from the Big Lottery Fund will support FCFCG to complete existing activities and support projects to create a legacy. The six key areas that will be developed are:
- An online community growing hub, which will host a number of existing resources and be somewhere community groups can go to access support and share information online.
- A package to develop a Workplace Growing programme with the private and public sectors. Workplace Growing encompasses a wide range of gardens on land where people work. This will enable local groups to act as consultants to businesses wanting to reap the benefits of workplace gardening activities, passing on skills such as garden design, volunteer management and community engagement.
- A consortium in Manchester and Midlothian to help local groups to network with each other so they can pick up contract and training work in their area.
- A training package to support growing groups around the UK to engage more with refugees and asylum seekers to explore the positive effects of gardening and food growing.
- Support packages to help housing associations and local authorities make better use of their land and help community sector organisations who want to find land for the projects through the Community Land Advisory Service in England and Wales.
- A conference in April titled 'Growing Better Lives 2018' to showcase learning and good practice. This is aimed at city farmers, care farmers and community gardeners, as well as academics and representatives from Government and funding organisations.
Growing Together Project Manager, Heidi Seary, said: “This grant both acknowledges our past successes with the Growing Together initiative and looks to build on them for the future. Thanks to National Lottery funding it means we will have extra resources and time to create a series of projects which we hope can either run on their own or attract other kinds of funding in the long term. “We will research, design and develop a suite of products which can be used for the benefit of community farms and gardens and act as a fitting legacy for the original Growing Together initiative.”
Derek Bardowell, Senior Head of UK Funding at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Bringing local people together to take action within their communities is at the heart of what we do. Thanks to National Lottery players we are delighted to be able to support Growing Together’s ambition of creating a lasting legacy and encouraging groups to further develop and share their skills, helping more communities to grow.”
The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery money, giving out 40% of the money raised by players for good causes. Last year it invested in over 5,000 projects across the UK that were working to improve people’s skills.