Grand Union is a gallery and artists’ studios complex in Digbeth, Birmingham. It is a welcoming organisation, bringing the public closer to art and artists. It hosts a free programme of public exhibitions and events, with many opportunities to share food and ideas.
The Growing Project is a part of Grand Union’s Collaborative Programme, curated by Jo Capper. Grand Union’s Collaborative Programme Strategy utilises the organisation’s cultural capital to work for social and environmental justice aims. The programme supports the work that key organisations in Digbeth and Birmingham do to support vulnerably housed people and those in crisis, whilst creating platforms of visibility for their causes. Working in partnership with Spring Housing, Crisis Skylight Birmingham, SIFA Fireside and St. Anne’s Hostel, The Growing Project is a unique inter-organisational relationship. It is using creative engagements through gardening and growing to offer therapeutic community growing experiences that bring together different people, supporting them in difficult times to grow, learn and work together.
The Growing Project has developed a team of participants, volunteers and staff from different organisations that are working effectively together to run community-led growing that considers the journey from seed to soil, to plate. As well as creating community green spaces in the urban environment, developing knowledge, skills and understanding on how we can better ‘green sense’ the urban environment. The project creates visible platforms that can change perceptions of vulnerable people in crisis and experiencing homelessness, celebrating their production and demonstrating how they can make positive contributions to society.
The Growing Project currently operates in four hostels across Birmingham. Grand Union works collaboratively with the residents, supported by Spring Housing, St. Anne’s Hostel, Crisis Skylight, SIFA Fireside, and Modern Clay. The first phase culminated in a Public Dinner Event in 2019, where guests and participants shared food and stories about the symbolic meaning of taking seed to soil, to plate.
Finally, what do you value about being a member of SF&G?
“It is great to be a part of a community that recognises the benefits of growing together.”
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