An interview with Felipe Molina
Can you explain to us what is a Mother Garden?
Calling a garden, a Mother Garden, comes from the idea of a plant being a mother
plant that propagates, producing seeds and new plants from this original plant.
Similarly, a Mother Garden is a garden that grows plants which are then distributed to
other people and their gardens, in the form of seeds or young plants. So it is a garden that helps create new gardens. Anybody can
have a Mother Garden, in their own garden, allotment, nursery, and even their window box. Or they can join a Mother
Garden from The Birmingham Mother Garden Network.
How is Spring to Life involved with Mother Gardens?
Mother Gardens is a project developed by Spring to Life, initially out of another project called Food Forest Brum. Originally the idea was for Mother Gardens to support Food Forest Brum by getting communities producing edible plants to go into public spaces. Yet it later became more about the sharing process itself and mutual aid. From this, came out The Birmingham Mother Gardens Network, where community groups and food growing projects are coming together to share plants and resources within their own communities and across communities.
Spring to Life has been running its own Mother Garden at it’s allotment in Bearwood. This site is a well-being space involving various groups including people with mental health problems, and refugees.
From time to time we adapt the Mother Gardens model to suit the
different needs in our communities. For example, we have worked with refugees and asylum seekers,
helping them learn about how to have their own Mother Garden and connect them to local food projects (Click here for more details on the Gaining Ground initiative). This in turn has supported them to become more rooted in the community, where they also share knowledge of plants and gardening from their own cultures.
Spring to Life’s main aim is to promote wellbeing alongside learning new skills for health and enjoyment. This has been experienced by people in the
past year with our Home Grow initiative, a Mother Gardens sub-project which has supported over 650 vulnerable
households across Birmingham to grow food at home during the pandemic. Through Big Lottery funding this was delivered by The Birmingham Mother Gardens Network. 14 Mother Garden hubs across the city connected to households in their neighboorhoods, sharing plants, seeds, materials and knowledge on gardening.
How does being a Mother Garden and growing your own
vegetables promote wellbeing?
Ultimately, it promotes a sense of community by people sharing their plants, seeds and their knowledge. Members feel supported and have a connection with others through a shared interest. What people do in their own gardens can have a positive impact on others. This idea of contributing to the well-being of other people has been shown to have immense value to one’s own mental health
Our Home Grow project not only helped people learn a new skill but also gave them a sense of purpose, taking their mind away from the difficulties in the past year. It also helped many families to bond through a shared activity.
How can people get involved?
People can sign up their own garden as a Mother Garden, and become a member of the Birmingham Mother Garden Network. We can then keep them updated on any upcoming projects, events and workshops. They can also get involved in an existing Mother Garden in their area.
For those already involved in community gardening in their neighbourhood, we can advise on how to develop their own Mother Garden hub connecting people in their neighbourhood. There are many great examples of local people already doing this.
What are the added benefits of gardening?
Being outdoors in the fresh air, and seeing things grow from a seed into a fully grown plant can a very fulfilling experience. The excercise that people get from gardening is also very beneficial.
How can people get in touch if they would like more information about the
gardening projects run by Spring to Life or about becoming a member of a
Phone or text: 07980272940
Testimonials. What people got most out of gardening and being linked with Mother
Gardens during Covid:
‘Meeting my social needs at community events and making new friends within my
community. Being able to get out of the house in a pandemic and still attend events
with others in a social distanced manner when most other hobbies/community events
are not able to run a they are indoors.
‘Being taught the skills and given support and knowledge to garden. Being given the
equipment to garden. The social aspect of learning with others.’
‘I think this project can be very useful in helping everyone to understand how our
world of food works as well as giving nature a helping hand.’
‘Given me a focus throughout Covid and something to look forward to with the
growth of plants and community sessions. Meeting my social needs at community
events and making new friends within my community.’
Check out Felipe’s podcast on Mother Gardens and Well-being: