Growing Resilience is a five-year, Big Lottery funded programme - which increases social capital and resilience in the community growing sector in Northern Ireland.
The 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 health, higher educational achievement, better employment outcomes, and lower crime rates. The stronger the interactions between people are, the greater the sense of community spirit, neighbourliness and civil participation.
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 and Tyrone, Strabane, Antrim and Ballymena and North 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!
In June 2019 after a hugely successful first two years, the Big Lottery confirmed it would fund Social Farms & Gardens to expand the work into three specific new areas (Newry, Mourne and Down).
Locations across wider Northern Ireland will also be included depending on the need. The Growing Resilience 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
If you are interested in learning more about this project, and receiving occasional updates, then contact us using the email address below (we promise we won’t bombard you with spam). Don't forget to include your name and the name of your group:
- Growing Resilience Information Leaflet - a leaflet outlining the benefits of participating in the programme.
- Growing Resilience Pilot Evaluation Report - from our Big Lottery NI funded pilot, which found that this model of working increased social capital.
- Social Capital Glossary of Key Terms - A glossary of key terms around social capital, networks and resilience.
- Northern Ireland Environment Link article - About a Growing Resilience event in 2017.
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.
C/O Social Farms & Gardens Northern Ireland
Tel : 07725699442