Mother Gardens project
Propagating plants, skills and community well-being
Mother Gardens is a scheme developed by Food Forest Brum and its parent organisation Spring to Life CIC to promote community resilience and mutual aid within and across communities in Birmingham and surrounding areas.
The project was set up in 2013 and has been funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust.
The idea is to work with community food growing groups (as well as individuals) to grow, propagate and share beneficial plants with one another. As people develop their own Mother Gardens, they are encouraged to make connections through plant sharing with other Mother Gardens in the region as well as with groups and people in their own communities.
Anyone with a garden – however big or small and regardless of skill level or available time – can have a Mother Garden. All you have to do is be willing to share and receive plants. Some groups may choose to set up nurseries on their site, but others may just allow beneficial plants to spread and multiply themselves. Then all people do is dig up, pot up, and share.
The idea is to make the maximum range and number of plants available to the widest possible number of people. We are very interested in plants with different uses, including those that are edible, medicinal, wildlife-friendly, unusual, heritage, and hardy/resilient. This year we organised our first very successful plant swap days at two Mother gardens, where people also shared many surplus vegetable seedlings.
An important element of the project is the development of a network of groups and individuals who connect through sharing. This sharing is also extending beyond plants. The network has already been used to dissminate other resources, skills, and initiatives, such as Spring to Life psycho-emotional well-being projects and other schemes offered by partner organisations within the network.
Mother Gardens hub at Uplands Allotment
We have recently received further funding from Barrow Cadbury trust to pilot a scaled-down Mother Garden network hub within Uplands allotment in Handsworth, Birmingham.
We chose Uplands allotment due to existing work Spring to Life and Food Forest Brum has done there, and because it is a site very rich in skill and diversity, with an active and like-minded allotment committee, who are developing a host of pioneering projects around sustainable living.
There will be four key strands to the project:
- Develop the overall network within Uplands allotment, connecting with groups, projects and individual allotment holders, while promoting the sharing of plants and seeds.
- Develop specific Mother Gardens within plots run by services working with disadvantaged groups, including Midland Heart and Creative Support.
- Further develop the community orchard. Hold workdays, creating Mother garden areas of self-propagating mother plants. We will work with the Urban Orchard project to restore the old orchards.
- Cultivate links between the allotment network and the outer network. We will link Uplands allotment with the wider Mother Garden network in Birmingham and to the growing food network of Handsworth. We will organise plant swap and seed swap days inviting people from both the allotment and the wider network to share. Anyone at Uplands who chooses to be a Mother Garden will automatically be part of the wider network.
Contact us to find out more or if you are intersted in signing up as Mother Garden: firstname.lastname@example.org