Our social outcomes show benefits to individuals and communities by getting involved with the Garden Organic Master Gardener Programme. Many people have reported many changes. For some though, their involvement is life changing.
Below is a selection of social case studies.
Case study 1: Shared harvest in deprived neighbourhood
Families from the Wayfield estate in Chatham have been sharing their first year harvest after advice from Master Gardeners Liz and Kelly.
Potatoes, radishes, beans and peas were on the menu as families met at the weekly gardening club throughout the school holidays.
Set up in 2013 with funding from the Deprived Neighbourhoods Approach, the Wayfield Community Garden is used by the Sure Start children’s centre and primary school on the site.
Liz works with families who live in an area of considerable deprivation. One of her keenest young gardeners is a boy of eight.
Liz said: “After coming to the gardening club his family bought some strawberry plants to tend at home. Billy brought in his first strawberry for me to try! Some of the children had never seen radishes before, or eaten peas and beans from the pod.
“It’s definitely making a difference to them,” Liz said. “They are curious, so we have dug up an onion to see the roots, and they have tried raspberries off the canes. They are asking to make a pizza garden next year.”
The potato harvest was recently shared with families reporting back that they had eaten them as baked potatoes, a frittata and in a salad.
Case study 2: New shoots at community allotment
Once home to a few fruit bushes and a lot of weeds, Hazlemere Drive community allotment in Gillingham is now thriving thanks to Master Gardener Tony.
The allotment had been used as part of the Public Health project ‘Medway Grows!’, but by the end of 2012, it was looking rather unloved. Step forward Master Gardener Tony. He has been working with the allotment users during after-work sessions on Tuesday nights.
Tony and the keen growers he is supporting planted tomatoes and peppers, sowed chard, winter cress, mustard, carrots, and baby leeks. They weeded mightily and even cleared some extra ground.
The results are a productive allotment, happy gardeners enjoying their exercise and growing, and recently, a crop of lettuces to take home.
Case study 3: Single homeless people at new garden in Great Yarmouth
Master Gardeners, Chris and Sarah, have transformed an unused space at Herring House Trust hostel to help clients develop life skills with social and learning activities.
Working with the association manager, Sue, the new garden supports clients on their journey away from substance misuse and back into employment and healthy lives.
Sarah said: “The area looked alive after the planting. All the participants engaged in the activity!”
Chris said: “Sue had raided the pound shop and came back with all sorts of goodies, containers, plants and compost. Some of the men started to paint the walls whilst the rest of us started planting up – tomatoes, squash, aubergine, leeks, peas, beans and salad.”
A couple of staff members are also keen to learn basic growing skills that they can pass onto future residents enabling the garden to continue to be a source of interest and learning. Sarah and Chris visit now weekly for a mini masterclass.
Case study 4: Older people and children working together
Master Gardener, Steve, has run 40 growing sessions that bring together old and young members of the community for their mutual benefit.
He played a key role in establishing the ‘Mile Cross Intergenerational Gardening Project’ in autumn 2011 with children from Catton Grove Primary School, older volunteers from Age UK, and staff from Mile Cross library.
As well as learning about growing food in a sustainable manner, the project helps older people enhance their social contact and sense of purpose, and provides children with mentoring and adult role models.
Steve recalls, “I delivered a presentation at Catton Grove School for the kids (yrs 4 and 5), teachers, and residents from sheltered housing close to the Library. There were 30-40 kids present and 7 potential volunteers. From that we got a few design ideas and a list of vegetables, herbs and flowers that they’d most like to grow.”
Case study 5: Two champions overcome odds at football pitch size space
Master Garderers, Sue and Shirley, have transformed a large and remove grassland in a housing estate to create the Mablethorpe Community Garden.
Against the odds, with a somewhat difficult community to engage with (a resident’s own words), the pair has encouraged numerous families to grow on the site. This includes two children from the travelling community and local dog walkers.
Community Payback has helped to dig the turf and have been wonderfully creative in bed designs. Through hard work, networking and visible success, the Master Gardeners were awarded a grant to help improve the site with a water butt, bench and various tools.
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- Read how growing mentors help communities benefit from growing in Coventry & Warwickshire, North London, South London, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Medway, Somerset, and at HMP Rye Hill.
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