Urban Growing

New community gardening project at Wellspring Settlement

By Abi Sweet

Abi Sweet from Alive Activities writes the latest Bristol Bites Back Better story with input from colleague Guy Manchester. We hear about the new inclusive community garden project at the Wellspring Settlement opening on 3 March that will be a chance to bring some of the organisations based at the Settlement even closer. The team are looking for volunteers to support the sessions – find out more.

Working for Alive, a charity that predominantly engages with older people has had its challenges during the current pandemic. Fortunately, an invitation to volunteer at the Wellspring Settlement, Barton Hill, as part of their COVID-19 relief telephone befriending service gave me a chance to stay involved with elders in my community. It was a privilege to see the benefits for people who otherwise might have been living in isolation make new connections and have meaningful conversations. 

Whilst at the Settlement, I saw underused green spaces, so worked with Social Prescriber Luis Dias to develop plans for a project here. Having already set up growing projects across other areas of Bristol, I was keen to get one off the ground in the heart of the community I live in.

We drew up grant applications and secured funding from the RHS Resilience Fund and Green Social Prescribing Fund.

So, I’m thrilled to announce the opening of an inclusive community garden project at the Wellspring Settlement on Thursday, 3 March. Together, staff and volunteers from both organisations will be working to support people from the local neighbourhood to get growing and experience the many benefits of social and therapeutic horticulture. Sessions will run every Thursday from 1.30-3.30pm and are open to all. 

We hope the sessions will be a welcoming space that forges connections between neighbours who might not otherwise get an opportunity to meet. We’ll be working together with a shared goal of creating a vibrant, colourful, inclusive growing space that can unite people while also sharing skills, learning together and making new friends.

The garden will also provide an opportunity to bring some of the organisations based within the settlement closer. These include FOOD Club, Bristol Refugee Rights, Props, the Over 55s services and Wellspring Settlement Family Centre. And we’ve reached out to organisations outside the settlement, such as Potter’s Den (a community growing project for adults with learning disabilities) and the community garden-based at the Strawberry Lane allotment. Kids’ sessions will also be running there on Holidays.

We’re now looking for volunteers to support our sessions and to help the local community grow fruit, veg and flowers in a friendly, accessible space. It’ll be an opportunity to meet new people, get some fresh air and gentle exercise and to help to make a difference. If you think you might be interested in this, see below for our contact details.

For our first session (on 3rd March), we will be preparing some of the abandoned, overgrown street-facing beds around the settlement with a team of local residents, volunteers and staff. We will have signs written in many different languages (one for each bed) to let people know about the community gardening project. In the afternoon, these beds will get planted up, and there will be an opportunity to make plans around tea and cake!

We can’t wait to get growing at the Settlement and look forward to seeing how we can transform the space together!

If you’d like to join us on 3 March, contact Abi on abi@aliveactivities.org or phone 07379 498 764. If you’d like to volunteer with us, contact Nadja on volunteer@aliveactivities.org or phone 07519 534 577.

Read Abi and Guy’s blog post from February 2021 about Alive Activities’ allotment that offers supported gardening and socialising sessions for people living with dementia and their carers.

By setting the wheels in motion now, together we can transform the future of food in our city, building in resilience over the next decade. So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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