Launched in March 2016, the Golding Growing Buddies programme brings together national charity, Garden Organic, and Kent-based housing Association, Golding Homes. The programme enhances community cohesion and improves the personal and social wellbeing of Golding Homes residents by encouraging and supporting them to grow their own food.
Using dedicated volunteers, the project has recruited, training and supported a network of enthusiastic ‘Growing Buddies’ who promote community gardening on four selected Golding estates. The success of the Golding Growing Buddies programme can be seen in how it has visibly enhanced the local community and personal lives of those involved. Three new community gardens have been developed in previously ‘unloved’ community spaces.
Growing Buddy James, who, along with the local community, developed the Bird Block Garden in Parkwood, featured in the Kent Messenger in September 2016 and discussed how developing the garden has helped him deal with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. “We just look out at this derelict park where people used to throw rubbish and it just looked awful, so we asked Golding Homes is we could do something with it.” Commented James. “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.”
Pippa Green is the Growing Buddies Officer at Garden Organic and has been involved with the project from the start. She commented:
The Growing Buddy volunteers have been wonderful and have contributed to the project in so many different ways. They've made a real difference to their local community.
To date, eight Growing Buddies have volunteered over 300 hours to the programme and have supported over 24 community events and workshops on the four estates. Golding Growing Buddies is just one of the many community engagement projects led by organic growing charity, Garden Organic. Through trained networks of volunteers, including Growing Buddies, Food Buddies, Master Gardeners and Master Composters, the charity supports community growing and composting projects at different locations across the UK. More information can be found by visiting www.gardenorganic.org.uk/communities