PLOT 22 provides communal gardening, outdoor cooking, crafting and therapeutic opportunities for local residents, families and groups experiencing additional challenges. We teach and inspire people to grow, harvest and cook fruit and vegetables. Emma Houldsworth explains more.
“We have developed a range of projects to maximise the social benefit from our small allotment in Hove, working with hundreds of people and a wide range of needs. Our work builds friendships, reduces isolation, builds and shares knowledge and skills and increases our connection to the food we eat and natural environment that sustains us. We believe everyone has something to contribute and look for ways to encourage and develop this. These shared endeavours of caring for the land and each other create belonging. Many people have called PLOT 22 a sanctuary and a haven.
“Our projects include: Thyme & Space - for female survivors of sexual abuse in collaboration with The Survivors Network; Dementia Inclusive Gardening - for people living with dementia and their carers; Grow & Play - for parent and pre-school age children in collaboration with local children’s centres; Community Sundays - all welcome; Lady Garden - female garden maintenance group; Quiet Garden - for Friends of PLOT 22. We also work with partners who use our space to run the following: Earth Works - a Men’s Bereavement Garden Group - in collaboration with The Martlets Hospice; TouchBase - sessions for school-age children who’ve experienced family trauma and their key adults.
“We've been operating as a community project since 2010 and a charity since 2016. Last year was a great year for us! We were a finalist in the best nature project category of the National Social Prescribing Awards (University of Westminster, College of Medicine) and we won a Gold award for best community garden charity in the Brighton & Hove City in Bloom competition.
“Our benefiicaries are residents of Brighton & Hove who lack access to nature, especially:
Women who have experienced sexual abuse/violence.
People living with dementia, their carers, and companions.
People experiencing mental ill-health.
Parents and pre-school age children, particularly those referred by local children’s centres.
Young people from key deprived areas.
“We connect people from different backgrounds, generations, abilities through shared outdoor activities and we have a strong track record of engaging vulnerable and hard to reach groups. Participants learn practical skills in food growing and cooking, habitat protection and resource conservation.
“We took part in a University of Essex study (2017) which concluded: “There are clear benefits and impacts for participants and volunteers. These are primarily: increased wellbeing, enjoyment of fresh air and social interaction with each other, volunteers and people from backgrounds they may not normally connect with. Project participants, volunteers, family members, and health professionals have identified impacts in terms of mood, self-confidence, new skills, increased physical activity, general wellbeing. All of this has led to increased participation over time."
Finally, what do you value about being a member of SF&G?
“We really value being part of a network and representation of our needs at a policy/strategic level.”
Badgers Brook Allotment is in Brackla, Bridgend. It is a 40 plot site with ten disabled plots, three of which are used by organisations that support disabled people. Regenerated by the community and brought back from dereliction.
Chyan Community Field, an organic forest farm with community access, has been running since 2002. In that time, the group have transformed a disused, over-grown 2.2 acre Cornish field into a shining example of vegan organic growing, wildlife gardening, sustainable energy production and community involvement.