This month, Social Farms & Gardens celebrated the CLAS (Community Land Advisory Service) Cymru Awards 2023 where they honoured 15 projects from around Wales making the best use of land in their communities. This year, for the first time, they held a hybrid event so had a number of CLAS Awardees in attendance at the new, sustainably designed community and visitor centre Hafan yr Afon in Newtown Powys, that opened in last year. Located on the banks of the River Severn it is run by Open Newtown as a social enterprise that has taken on the stewardship of 130 acres of the town’s parks, open spaces and river frontage. The Town Council won a CLAS Award in our first year of the awards for their support to the largest land transfer to a community in recent years.
This year’s successful projects were:
1. Able Cwmbran, Torfaen
2. Agri-cation CIC, Wrexham
3. Ainon Baptist Church Community Garden, Cardiff
4. Brynawel Therapeutic Community Gardens, Rhondda Cynon Taff
5. Bwyd Bendigedig y Felinheli Incredible Edibles, Gwynedd
6. Antur Aelhaearn, Gwynedd
7. Forgeside RFC Community Garden, Torfaen
8. Gardd Gymunedol Hive Community Garden, Gwynedd
9. Llansamlet Graveyard Community Garden, Swansea
10. Grow Well Riverside, Cardiff
11. Growing Together, A Garden Project, Denbighshire
12. Meadow Street Community Gardens and Woodland, Rhondda Cynon Taff
13. Tŷ Dewi Sant Residential Home Garden, Vale of Glamorgan
14. Wild Elements, Gwynedd
15. Wildmill Youth Club, Bridgend
Ainon Baptist Church Community Garden, who joined online said,
‘thank you so much for this wonderful award and recognition. So many amazing projects, so many ideas! Well done SF&G, excellent work.’
All the awarded projects featured, have completed a Social Farms & Gardens ‘Site Resilience Plan’ to demonstrate to public bodies and potential funders their attributes and achievements in line with the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 Goals. The in-person event was very well attended where groups were able to celebrate their achievements alongside fellow community gardeners and like-minded individuals. The invite was extended to local councillors, partner projects and Welsh Government representatives, who were also in attendance.
Group members from Agri-cation in Wrexham said that it was a:
‘lovely ceremony as it was a relaxed format and not corporate which created a sense of community.’
During the ceremony the project members were presented with ‘community managed’ plaques and certificates; recognising their hard work in gaining permission to manage a green space. This is the fruition of a huge amount of hard work, consultation with public bodies and engagement with the community. This year we have been lucky enough to have Volunteer/Co-founder of Incredible Edible Porthmadog, Charissa Buhler, create our newly designed plaques using reclaimed oak.
Joining Social Farms & Gardens for their celebration, alongside the awardees, there was a very special guest host - author, YouTube star, and founder of the Abundance Academy, Huw Richards, who presented the awardees with their plaques, certificates and also kindly donated signed copies of his own books for each of the groups as part of their award. Huw, who has over 75 million views on his gardening videos which are dedicated to empowering people to grow their own food, believes that vegetable gardening doesn't need to be expensive or time-consuming. These beliefs made him the ideal host for the CLAS Awards, an inspiration for all aspiring community gardeners! Huw also held a questions-and-answer session where the Awardees and other attendees, both online and in person, had the chance to ask him community gardening, or just general gardening-based questions.
Social Farms and Gardens hosts the Community Management Awards in order to acknowledge the hard work and many achievements of all communities who manage green spaces. Through their Welsh Government funded CLAS Cymru programme, they will continue to support these groups and other communities who seek to acquire land to manage green spaces. CLAS Cymru also works with Keep Wales Tidy to help community green space projects achieve a Green Flag Community Award. Do you know of a community green space or gardening project that has gained access to land and is achieving great things? They could be one of our 2024 Awardees! Email us at [email protected] with any further details.
Social Farms & Gardens membership is open to any organisation delivering nature-based activities that improve people's lives. For example, the delivery of care services or community development through farming or gardening. Click here to join for free today!