Lockdown has presented everyone with huge challenges. Here are some of the ways that our members are rising to meet this challenge and learning how to do things in new ways in order to stay connected with their communities.
Our members are...filming life during COVID - 19
Farm Manager Geoff, from Pathways care farm in Suffolk has made a series of YouTube videos showing different aspects of farm life to help people still feel connected to the farm and to nature, even when they can't be there.
Our members are...growing food for the community
The government has listed 'food and other necessary goods' under the 'Critical Sector' category and this includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery.
Many of our members despite having to drastically reduce staff on site are looking at how they can provide food for their local community safely. A great example of this is from OrganicLea, a community food project based in the Lea Valley in North-East London: How they are keeping local food supply growing and going
Our members are...looking at 'Veg Box' schemes to provide an income and support local communities
Sutton Community Farm, London are doing just this and are now no longer taking new customers due to the high demand. Rota management, reducing contact information is found on their website and contains useful information for others who are growing.
Our members are...writing to government and funders
The London Association has sent an open letter to funders and government, together with a support letter from Mark Lane, Gardeners World presenter. The letters call for guidance and support from government, and for funders to continue to support the vital work of the sector. They also highlight how important the services delivered by our members will be in the aftermath.
"When the immediate crisis abates, city farms and community gardens will be places for people to recover from issues caused and worsened by this crisis."
Posting mental health information, mindfulness sessions, gardening and craft ideas.
Horton Community Garden run Mindfulness Garden courses and they are exploring ways to bring the mindfulness garden to people online. For the time being they are sharing a free weekly nature connection and a meditation practice each Tuesday. This is a great idea to help people, whilst keeping potential customers engaged. It could be monetised through using Zoom as suggested above. Visit their Facebook page for the links and see their first edition below, which contains videos and helpful tips to follow.
Rainbow Community Garden, Hullare posting about their weekly growing activities and gardening tips so that their service users can still feel part of the growing season.
Our members are...live streaming events
Some of our members are exploring live streaming some activities to continue contact. You can do this by using Facebook Live or through apps like Zoom. Facebook live means that anyone can log on unless your Facebook group is set to members only/private. Using apps like Zoom require people to be invited to an online event, making it possible for you to charge for attending the event.
Cotteridge Park in Birmingham have been live streaming Thai Chi and Swing Fit for free via Facebook a Tai Chi session (see their Twitter and Facebook pages @CotteridgePark)
Our members are...delivering their courses online
Cynon Valley Organic Adventures are a community run social enterprise based in Wales, they have been given permission to deliver their accredited courses online so will be delivering various environmental and wellbeing courses. Find out more on their website.
Our members are...keeping in touch with their service users
Many of our members have got in touch to say how they are keeping connected to the people that access their services. Many people who rely on these vital services are living with complex needs and mental health issues. They are doing this by using a rota system to have regular catch ups on the phone to check in with people.
The Fold care farm in Worcestershire are doing just this, they have also posted out 'Grow Your Own Basil' kits to their participants and have organised a 'Farm Bingo' live streamed event to keep in touch. A lovely idea, carried out following strict hand washing guidance.
Our members are...helping families with homeschooling, by producing 'Nature and Science-Based Holiday Play Activities'
Hammersmith Community Gardens in London are creating a twice-weekly holiday play newsletter that is full of ideas about food growing, recycling, up-cycling and nature art and craft to support families during this period of homeschooling. If you would like to receive this newsletter, subscribe here or visit their website.
Our members are...giving away free growing kits
Hammersmith Community Gardens are also giving away over one hundred free growing kits. Inside the 'growing kit' are sunflower seeds and other vegetable seeds, instructions on how to sow and plant them, small pots, compost and ideas for things you can grow at home from your store cupboard or from your food waste. They will be giving away more growing kits over the next week. Keep an eye on their Twitter for the latest.
Our members are...helping to spread key messages
Malcom Macqueen, Chair of Organic Growers of Fairlie and John Wilby, Secretary of Paisley West End Growers Association, demonstrating the 2 metre rule.
Our members are...getting children involved in growing wildflowers in urban green spaces
Friends of Eastville Park in Bristol have been making up seed bombs for children to take part in their annual wildflower sowing. The seed bombs are available to pick up anytime by families going on their daily exercise and are placed near a noticeboard. They have been prepared safely and without hand contact. Find out more on the Friends of Eastville Park Facebook page.