Growing Buddies - Golding Homes (South East region)
Growing Buddies improve the health and well-being of Golding Homes residents by encouraging them to try food growing at home or in community spaces. The project arose from a successful partnership between Garden Organic and housing association Golding Homes to create an organic community garden on an estate in Maidstone, Kent.
The Walshaw and Telford House garden is an award-winning community space looked after by residents of two housing blocks. Garden Organic ran regular growing sessions in the garden to teach residents the basics of food growing, crop rotation, pests and disease and soil management.
15 sessions were delivered, including a visit to a nearby allotment site to learn what is grown locally and a celebration barbecue. Approximately 140 attendances at growing sessions were recorded and residents (adults and children) contributed 225 hours at the garden.
To build on that experience, volunteer “Growing Buddies” were recruited from three other target estates to spread the food growing message. Through community engagement, encouragement and support, they help new growers to get started and enjoy home-grown herbs, salads and veg.
The project aims to improve quality of life on target estates, increase community cohesion and foster pride and a sense of ownership. Growing food together leads to increased well-being and has health benefits for both the volunteer Growing Buddies and the people they support.
One Growing Buddy, James, who has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, said: “We used to look out at this derelict park where people used to throw rubbish and it just looked awful, so we asked Golding Homes if we could do something with it.
“My PTSD affects me in terms of anger and anxiety, but I have found this is the perfect outlet. I find it very therapeutic and it makes things that bit better for me and my family. And now the garden is helping other families, too.”
If you live in or around Maidstone, are interested in gardening and food growing and would like to get involved, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org