Growing Resilience: Digging Deeper

‘Growing Resilience: Digging Deeper’ is a five year project funded by The National Lottery, Community Fund programme. The project increases social capital and resilience in the community growing sector in Northern Ireland.

The ‘Growing Resilience: Digging Deeper’ programme works to support volunteers in the community growing sector to connect, share skills, build confidence and support one another; strengthening their ability to work sustainably and withstand changes in an ever-changing financial landscape.
At Social Farms & Gardens we know that the conversations and connections made between community gardens will lead to a stronger voice for the sector in general. Research demonstrates that higher levels of social capital are associated with better individual and community health and well-being.

In the first two years of Social Farms & Garden’s project ‘Growing Resilience’, we worked with 20 gardening groups across five areas of Northern Ireland Fermanagh & Tyrone, Strabane, Bann, North Antrim and Antrim. We’ve also held two highly attended networking forums, one in Omagh and one in Belfast, bringing together practitioners from across the country to meet and provide peer to peer support for each other’s projects.

The skills shared so far have been hugely diverse and inspiring; from soil health, fermenting foods and community composting, to pallet furniture making and a great engagement activity called disco soup!

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'The Resilience of the Community Growing Sector in Northern Ireland' Report completed in June 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic, aims to describe the breadth of activity in the sector, summarise the needs of the sector, and make recommendations for how funders, commissioners and others in the statutory sector can structure their support to best support those working to improve the lives of people in their community. It was written with input from those working in the sector and aims to be representative.

In these uncertain times, with many challenges and opportunities on the horizon, not least the Covid 19 crisis and the climate emergency, a strong, connected community growing sector will provide stability and
resilience in our communities, and is something to be proud of.

Case Studies

From permaculture smallholdings near the beautiful Mourne Mountains in Co. Down, to communties in West Belfast transforming unloved aleyways into friendly, green spaces and much more. Visit our case studies page to see what groups in Northern Ireland are doing to connect people to nature and community.

Background to the project

In June 2019 after a hugely successful first two years, The National Lottery, Community Fund programme confirmed it would fund Social Farms & Gardens to expand the work into three specific new areas (Newry Mourne and Down, Derry City and North Belfast). All Local Council areas will be covered as the project develops. The project will also organise networking forums across Northern Ireland, which could include topics such as growing skills, volunteer recruitment and community development and engagement.

Patricia Wallace Northern Ireland Development Co-ordinator says:

“Community gardening makes a unique contribution to community development. It provides a communal space for people to come together to socialise and enjoy growing healthy fresh food. When we slow down to the pace of nature, we relax; giving real health benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing. When we grow food in a community space there are huge social benefits for ourselves and our community. We see it all the time – that little bit of magic that happens when people are brought together in these spaces; and sometimes we see that the simplest projects are achieving the greatest impact to personal and community health and wellbeing. This programme nurtures and sustains these groups, helping them to thrive into the future.”

Sign Up For Information

Please complete this form if you would like to be added to our mailing list to join one of our five Growing Resilience networks and also receive regular updates from our NI team.

Information Resources

We also plan to create a downloadable pdf leaflet about the benefits of participating. This is being prepared and will be available in due course. 


Miriam Turley
C/O Social Farms & Gardens Northern Ireland

Tel : 07725699442


Our Work

We are the leading UK charity dedicated to supporting city farms, community gardens, care farms & other green spaces.

Why Join

Your services are free, relevant and have promoted growth which makes you more popular with us.” – Community Garden member.