This year we received a Big Lottery Awards for All grant to expand the Mother Gardens (MG) project. This will entail signing-up new food projects to become MGs, re-connecting with existing MGs, facilitating more sharing opportunities between projects, developing the overall MG model, and expanding the network. We also aim to engage with gardeners who may want to sign up their private gardens and allotment plots as MGs.
We will be developing an online map of Birmingham, where people can identify MGs across different localities in the city. This will serve to explore areas that are in greater need for the project to target, and connect them with other groups and gardeners. People will also be able to see what is going on in or near their own community.
New areas where projects are signing up as MGs include: Quinton, Bordesley Green, Oldbury, Winson Green, Summerfield and Kingshurst.
We have also received a Communities Together grant from the Heart of England Community Foundation to work with migrant and refugees groups, by connecting them with a range of MGs and gardening groups across the city. This initiative – titled ‘Gaining Ground’ – is a sub-project of MG, and started at the beginning of the year with the aim to create more connection between new communities and local resident communities. It is about creating mutual gains for both host and visiting projects.
Activities have included: taking people to community gardening sites in the areas that they live, enabling visiting groups to share their own skills and plants, getting people to volunteer at Food Forest Brum sites including orchard maintenance activites, establishing new mother gardens, and getting people to share and talk about edible plants native to their home country with local people.
We have worked closely with groups such as Kushinga Community Garden and Freedom from Torture, where members have become involved in the project as a way to be more rooted in local communities. People have also had the opportunity to learn new skills such as fruit tree grafting and pruning, while carrying this out for the benefit of the local community.
The name Gaining Ground refers to ‘grounding’, a mental health term for being able to be present and not caught up in stresses, anxiety and traumas; the project aims to help people settle into communities by being involved with them and the environment.
At this new stage of the Mother Gardens project we are expanding our capacity to work with a wider range of groups, while increasing the capacity of more people to be able to make a difference in the community and themselves.