Urban Growing

Bristol community growing project, the Ardagh Community Trust, features in Gardeners’ World

By Lucy Gatward

A local community group based in Horfield Common features in BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World on Friday 4 August at 8pm, celebrating the power of local community working together for good. Lucy Gatward meets with Sally Mines from The Ardagh for our latest blog post.

Growing food at the heart of the community

Ardagh Community Trust’s gardening volunteer group, led by head gardener Steve, grow fruit and vegetables in raised planting beds for use in the on-site café. In addition, much of what is grown is donated to Family Food Action (FFA) who distribute weekly food boxes to families and community groups in need in the local area.

“Our collaboration with Family Food Action provides a vital link to groups supporting families in areas of high deprivation and food insecurity in Bristol” says The Ardagh Community Trust’s administrator, Sally Mines. Participating groups include The Vench Adventure Playground in Lockleaze, St Pauls and Southmead Children’s Centres, Felix Road Adventure Playground, Easton, and May Park Primary School, Easton, who all benefit from weekly donations of food which is then used to produce meals (at Felix Road and the Vench) or distributed to families though weekly food clubs at St Pauls, Southmead and the Vench, or through the school at May Park.

Sally continues “We’re so proud to be involved in this project, hosting Family Food Action on site to support them with their deliveries and distribution. Food grown at The Ardagh is donated directly to FFA, straight from the ground, fresh, nutritious and plastic-free. Within hours it has reached those that need it most”.

Benefitting the community

The Ardagh’s gardens are a vital part of the Trust’s facilities, which now include a café, public gardens and sports courts.

Back in the mist of time (around 2010), a derelict patch of land on Horfield Common was proposed for sale by Bristol City Council on the basis that the site provided no benefit to the local community.

Fast forward to 2017. In response to overwhelming local support, the newly formed Ardagh Community Trust (ACT) is awarded a Community Asset Transfer lease to enable the regeneration of parts of the Ardagh site for the use and enjoyment of local residents and the wider community.

A sustainable haven

Since those early days, ACT has worked tirelessly in partnership with local residents, community groups and very willing volunteers to develop a haven of tranquility within a suburban sprawl. ACT is a charity that does not receive any core funding so continues to fundraise to cover the costs of capital and environmental improvements to the site which includes public gardens and sports courts. ACT is committed to sustainable operations and to increasing a positive social and environmental impact. In an effort to secure the future for the site ACT has pioneered social enterprise projects in the form of a community café and plant nursery.

The gardens are a vital part of The Ardagh and have undergone a spectacular regeneration through the effort and dedication of the gardening team.

Next steps

“Visit our little jewel of a park”, says Sally, “sample our home-grown food from the community café, relax in our glorious gardens and have a look at what’s on offer from the plant nursery”.

Find out more about Ardagh Community Trust and Family Food Action: Watch BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World on Friday 4 August at 8pm.

Keep in touch with the Ardagh: Website; Facebook; Instagram; Twitter.

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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