A Preston charity that encourages a community of green spaces is growing its impact across the city.Advertisement
Established around eight years ago, Let’s Grow Preston aims to create and support a network of volunteer-led community green space and growing projects in and around Preston.
The group held a Spring Fair in Ashton Park during Saturday with a selection of local craftspeople selling their wares. There was also a showcase of South East Asian culture from Preston City Mela Outreach, and Tai Chi and Chinese dancing from UCLan’s Confucius Institute.
Blog Preston spoke to Jenny Bennion, Community Engagement Officer, to find out more about the charity’s work, including plans for a Preston flower show, and how the garden saved one man’s life.
We run two community gardens ourselves – one in Ashton Walled Garden and one at Grange Community Garden. We support numerous member groups, such as parks’ friends groups, community allotments or other community green space projects. Through this we aim for anyone to be able to get involved with the project that is right for them.
Our community of green spaces are welcoming, safe and inclusive. They are there for anyone and everyone to access, enjoy and get involved with. Whether it be spending more time outdoors or getting involved in a new activity and meeting new people, these seemingly simple steps can have a huge impact on improving the health and wellbeing of our community.
We have lots of seedlings and plants to share with the community gardeners and allotments across the PR post code. We also have a bulk buying scheme with some local nurseries so that we can get the best deals for our members. As well as this we have tools and equipment from spades and hand forks to apple presses that the community members can borrow.
Being outdoors has been proven to help improve both people’s physical health and their mental wellbeing. We welcome people who may be suffering from social isolation or other lifestyle difficulties. People have a greater sense of community and learn more about what is out there for volunteers.
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Some of our volunteers have reported significant improvements to their health and wellbeing. For example one of our volunteers no longer takes anti-depressant medication and we have also helped people to have the confidence to rejoin employment.
One of our volunteers told us that the garden had saved his life. He joined while he was suffering from depression. He came along to our site as often as he chose, there was no pressure to talk, but he found that being useful and engaging with the site really helped his mental health.
Last summer we helped some of Preston’s most vulnerable communities. We worked with local allotmenteers and other community gardens to collect excess produce and distribute it among Holiday Hunger Markets across Preston. We also donated produce to The Foxton Centre and St Cuthbert’s Church Refugee and Asylum Seeker Lunches.
We want to see more and more people coming together to care for their local environment. Whether that be adopting an unloved flower bed on their street, helping to maintain an existing green space or creating a whole new community growing space.
We are looking to create a new Preston Flower Show. This would involve many of the aspects of a traditional flower show such as floral displays and show gardens, but also be much more of a community event with stalls from local organisations, school involvement and a focus on making horticulture accessible to all, especially those with a traditional Preston back yard.
We are very keen to work with local GPs and healthcare providers. We want them to support a social prescribing scheme into our services, however it’s been difficult to establish so far as GPs are really only able to signpost patients to us. It is then up to them to contact us and then come along.
Without the support of our local community and volunteers, Let’s Grow Preston and our network of wonderful community green and growing spaces simply wouldn’t exist. By getting involved in Let’s Grow Preston activities people can both help to maintain and improve the local environment for everyone, as well as benefiting from the numerous health and wellbeing benefits that volunteering and spending times outdoors can provide.
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Will you be going to the Spring Fair? Do you fancy getting involved with Let’s Grow Preston? Let us know in the comments below.