Summerwood Community Garden in Clifton have been working hard throughout the pandemic to ensure the local community have the support they need during such a challenging time. Below, a spokesperson from the organisation explains the immense and wonderful activities they’ve been up to:
The past 12 months have been a difficult time and at Summerwood Community Garden we have sorely missed our volunteers, busy family sessions, workshops and events which makes the gardens thrive with activity and life and the inclusive, welcoming space it is.
Like most projects and organisations in the country we found ourselves closing our doors for the first time since we first opened in 2008. Whilst still popping down to water the plants and feed the chickens we saw nature continued to flourish as the bees made honey, the trees blossomed and the seedlings grew despite everything else grinding to a halt.
As lockdown restrictions gradually eased, we were pleased to be able to launch a new project called ‘Growing Forward’ supporting those struggling with mental health as a result of the pandemic. The “Growing Forward” project offered 1.1 counselling and therapeutic gardening sessions on the community garden with Clare, a trained counsellor.
As the winter drew in it became impractical to meet outside so Clare has continued to support these people by delivering food bags to them until the end of March and offering phone and doorstep support.
During the Summer we joined forces with Meet Greet and Eat a Nottingham based organisation who support adults with additional needs (learning difficulties and/or disability) to come together and work as a team providing food bags and hot meals from surplus food from supermarkets which would otherwise go to waste.
What started out as a holiday hunger scheme has accelerated into a weekly pandemic support project. We provide weekly food bags to those who are struggling financially or mentally due to the pandemic as well as socially isolated and vulnerable residents. All the food provided is food that has been saved from landfill which we collect from supermarkets or from FareShare, a national organisation which redistributes supermarket waste.
Not only is the surplus food being distributed to support families and individuals, but this project is giving the volunteers at Meet Greet and Eat a sense of purpose and achievement in supporting the wider communities.
Charlotte who runs the Clifton Bidding page which fundraises £1000s each year for charity has been incredibly supportive and has been able to help us distribute food bags to local families who have needed support.
Having also grown vegetables over the Summer, we donated to NG11 Food Bank who we will continue to support this year with fresh surplus veg.
In the last month we have also started working with local organisation Good Companions, a befriending service for the elderly, providing some of their members with weekly hot meals kindly cooked by Portbello Lounge who support Meet Greet and Eat. In the autumn we were lucky enough to obtain funding from the Nottingham City Homes to provide bulbs to our community. The Lottery gave us additional funding to give away pots of bulbs to the isolated elderly members of our community and we have been growing flowering plants which we can distribute to them so they can have some spring colour after this difficult winter.
We would like to thank our funders who include DEFRA, Nottingham City Council, The Co-op and NET & Nottinghamshire Community Foundation who have supported us so we can keep providing services during this pandemic.
What lockdown has taught us is the importance of pulling together and through this collaboration with the community, volunteers and our incredible donations we can support each other. Clifton has once again shown that has a positive community spirit always prevails and we believe the community will arise out of this pandemic stronger.