Funded by Barrow Cadbury, this year we coordinated a scaled-down version of the Mother gardens model at Uplands allotment in Handsworth. The idea was to develop a network within the allotment of projects and plot holders who grow and share plants and seeds. The other objective has been to connect the wider Mother gardens and ecological networks with the network within Uplands.
A core part of fullfilling these aims happened through a seed swap day in March and plant swap day in May held at the allotment clubhouse. At the seed swap event, as well as having different gardeners come and swap seeds, we also had community seedbank projects and Ryton garden organic hold a stall. Preserves and food were sold and served, much of which were grown directly at the allotment. From the event all seeds that were left over helped populate an existing seed bank that was developed by Uplands allotment Cooperative Association.
The plant swap day was a chance for plot holders and others from the wider networks to share and swap surplus vegetable seedlings and herb plants with one another. This proved to be very successful, leaving some active plot holders enthused to hold their own plant swap day next year.
Uplands allotment is characterised by having a diverse and vibrant community of people and groups, which we were very glad work with. Groups and project we linked with included PAG (Uplands sustainability project), Urban Therapies, Midland Heart, Birmingham Metropolitan College, the Uplands bee hive, and the Uplands Allotment Cooperative Association itself. We also got a lot of support from Stonham carers group who have an allotment on the nearby Sandwell allotments.
We helped maintain and develop existing community orchards on the site, and coordinated community workdays to help re-established plots damaged by the summer floods. It was a great opportunity to bring people within and outside Uplands allotment to work together.
A big part of our input at Uplands has also been to work with Midland Heart to further develop their allotment plot, and to help develop their own Mother garden. An unexpected outcome from this was that some Midland heart
housing projects across Handsworth became Mother gardens themselves. In an effort to address social inclusion, volunteers at the Midland heart allotment, were also involved in the wider Mother garden projects and workdays around the whole allotment site.
As always the Mother gardens project has helped us develop and expand our networks, and to connect people together with similar and complimentary interests and skills. We are pleased to have met some very inspiring and passionate people who really care about sustainability as well as people’s health and community well-being.