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Growth in green projects as £50k awarded in grants to community groups

Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) has recently awarded £50,000 in grants to 22 groups to create or develop green community spaces across Somerset. These grants were made possible thanks to Somerset County Council and with the support of Somerset Community Food.

Green social prescribing, nature-based therapy, growing and nature all featured prominently in the applications for grants from the Growing Grants funding programme, many in relation to recovery from the pandemic. The pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s health and wellbeing and has further increased awareness of the value of spending time outdoors and the benefits of engaging with green spaces.

Leader of Somerset County Council David Fothergill said: “Gardening, growing and being with others who enjoy these activities have such benefits for mental as well as physical health.

“The pandemic has made us all appreciate being outdoors and it’s even better if that means growing your own produce and enjoying the fruits of your labours. It is so encouraging to see our seed funding grow such strong community roots.”

Andy Ridgewell, Senior Grants Manager at SCF, said: “A few years ago we started to get more applications from groups using gardening to help people in their communities. In March 2019 we worked with Spark Somerset to organise a networking session called Grow for Good, bringing together over 20 local gardening and horticultural projects to network, exchange ideas, and potentially work together.

“The outcome was a conversation with Somerset County Council about sustainable food systems and food poverty, and directly influenced the creation of the £50,000 Growing Grants fund.”

Caroline Lewis from Somerset Community Food added: “The Growing Grants programme highlights the diverse range of community-focused gardening and growing schemes across Somerset. There is clearly a lot of expertise across the network. We’re working with Spark Somerset to host regular forums to bring project workers / volunteers together to provide useful information and project support, and the Grow for Good Facebook page is a really great place for projects to connect and share advice and information.”

The groups that were awarded funding from the Growing Grants programme are:

  • ARK AT EGWOOD CIC, Merriott, £1207 for additional equipment for growing spaces
  • Axbridge Community Allotment Association, £824 for a new shed and polytunnel repair for allotment site
  • Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partnership, Keinton Mandeville, £990 for equipment for a horticulture and craft project
  • Cultivating Community, Frome, £3,000 for staffing to develop and continue ‘Connect and Grow’ programmes
  • EAQ Manor Farm CIC, Ilminster, £3,000 to create a ‘Growing for the Future’ garden
  • East Chinnock Parish Council, £1,750 for raised beds for a community growing space
  • Feed Avalon CIC, Glastonbury, £2,010 for ‘Garden to Plate’ courses using their community garden-grown produce
  • Friends of Dunster School, £2,200 to enhance an outdoor area for growing projects
  • Frieze Hill Community Orchard, Taunton, £1,050 for new trees and a willow workshop
  • Frome Field 2 Fork CIC, £4,586 to increase capacity of a community growing site
  • Green Henton, £1,000 for a polytunnel and water supply for a permaculture plot
  • Honeymead Garden Society (Allotments), Baltonsborough, £1,742 for water storage tanks for an allotment site
  • Manor House Road Community Garden, Glastonbury, £1,500 for seating and a shed for a community garden
  • Plotgate Community Farm, Barton St David, £3,200 towards supporting volunteers and trainees
  • Root Connections CIC, Wells, £5,000 for an Outreach Officer and a new shed for horticultural courses
  • Shipham Community Allotment Association, £522 for water collection, seating and raised beds to enhance allotment site
  • St Margaret’s PTA, Tintinhull, £800 for the completion of a sensory garden for a primary school
  • Stepping Stones Playgroup, Wells, £1,622 to develop a garden area and workshops
  • The Mendip School, Shepton Mallet, £3,000 to develop a Forest School for pupils with special needs
  • The Nelson Trust, Bridgwater, £2,500 for a new garden group at a Women’s Centre
  • Transition Town Wellington, £2,743 for plants, tools, signage and booklets for their community growing site
  • Westfield Community Association (pictured), Yeovil, £5,000 for a new allotment zone in existing community garden space

 Westfield Community Association is a community group working in one of Somerset’s most socially and economically challenged communities. With the help of a £5,000 grant from the fund, they are creating an allotment area as one of six zones within the brand new Westfield Community Garden in Yeovil.

 ​Mike Chant, from Westfield Community Association, said: “The positive benefits of gardening for people’s health and wellbeing are well known, and the allotment zone, where residents of all demographics will grow fruit and veg for the community, will be a core functional element within our community space.”

Any community group or charitable organisation wishing to apply for funding should visit the SCF website where they can find guidance on how to make an application:

Somerset Community Foundation is a charity that helps passionate people in Somerset change the world on their doorstep by funding local charities and inspiring local giving and philanthropy. They aim to build stronger communities in Somerset where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. They provide rewarding and impactful ways for donors to give through them, to the causes and places they care about most. Together, they fund amazing organisations and the passionate people that change lives every day.

Since SCF were founded in 2002 they’ve awarded more than £15 million in funding, changing thousands of lives across Somerset.

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