Crowdfunder is waiving its platform fees for community and charity crowdfunding projects during the coronavirus crisis. These are unprecedented times but together, we are stronger, and the response is coming from communities across the country. Volunteer groups are springing up to tackle the logistical problems faced in our communities – but they need urgent support. That's where we come in.
Community gardens have a responsibility for the recovery of the impacts COVID-19 and the lockdowns have caused. We recognise that these community spaces will offer a reassuring next step to those who are fearful of venturing out of their homes again. At the Olive Branch Community Garden (OBCG) we are well equipped to respond to food poverty, mental health conditions and generally to increase the sense of belonging that is truly needed right now. Together we can pull together the pieces of the parts of our community that are fragmented.
We are a group of local people who have a huge passion to grow community and care for our Earth. We grow in the sense of true, organic community cohesion as well as literally growing food, medicine, and plants for the soul.
There are some rewards on the right-hand side, all donated by supporters of the garden – please note that rewards will not be sent out until the crowdfunder is complete. You can also simply make a donation. Please do share this crowdfunder with others, stating a reason why you think the OBCG deserves support.
At the OBCG, we foster a caring, friendly atmosphere, where people are ready to make a cuppa, peer support, activities to improve physical and mental health.
In 2008 the garden was established by local people and Councillors, it was a disused allotment space and there was a real desire to turn it into a community space. It is located in one of the most deprived wards in the country.
In 2017 we established a Community Interest Company and signed a 25-year lease with the Peterborough City Council. We have been growing food with local people, disability groups, specialist schools, preschools, Froglife, and many others since.
The community garden is at the heart of the Dogsthorpe and Welland area in Peterborough where a warm and welcoming environment awaits all. It is a place for the community to grow, providing social, gardening, growing, and volunteering opportunities, community events, and free educational courses.
We are a community interest company that aims to:
- be a catalyst for positive change locally & beyond
- inspire connections with self, neighbours, food & nature
- to promote social cohesion
- enhance overall health and well-being
- reduce food poverty.
Everyone is invited to connect with this very special and unique piece of community land and with each other, across the diverse spectrum our community embraces. We enjoy leading in pursuits promoting togetherness, integration, and social cohesion.
The Olive Branch Community Garden is a unique kind of place. A type of space that everyone should have access to. A place where you find a community that sincerely cares. One where people’s hopes and aspirations come together, whatever their faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background. We pride ourselves on our inclusivity, integrating people with different backgrounds and challenges into our community.
We especially enjoy supporting and nurturing young people and adults with learning and physical disabilities and those with long-term health conditions. We offer support to families who are experiencing poverty including those who are not in employment and/or do not own a car. The garden offers free experiences to people of all walks of life to come together and share in ways they otherwise could not, including the homeless, refugees, and others who might struggle to access volunteering opportunities.
Especially throughout COVID-19, many of our communities struggle with social isolation. Prior to COVID-19, many in our local area had already been experiencing social isolation. For example, the 2011 Census reported that in Dogsthorpe, 33.2% of adult carers had not had as much social contact as they would like. Loneliness is experienced in different ways and impacts the mental health of many. It is proven to relate to heart problems, drug/alcohol abuse, and increased depression and stress to name but a few impacts. It can also be linked to suicides, of which there were 63 cases of suicide in Peterborough between 2017-2019 – it has the highest suicide rate in Cambridgeshire.
Many benefit from the garden, you can see some feedback here:
Our focus at the moment is on the following key areas
- At the heart of everything we do is about community and sharing. Sharing the whole experience of growing, cooking, and eating together in the garden has increased people's physical health, and their mental health and wellbeing. We want to continue doing this to help people recover from national restrictions and the impact of COVID-19. We want to help people, especially those hardest hit, to feel more comfortable with coming back out of their homes and participating in the community again.
We have been exploring ways to make the garden as accessible and comfortable as possible for all. We want everyone, no matter what their accessibility requirements are, to take part in all activities throughout the garden, ensuring they have the tools and equipment to participate in gardening, health and wellbeing sessions, and general physical activities in the garden, including mindful gardening, yoga, and intergenerational sports activities.
Not only do our visitors and volunteers actively participate in gardening activities, we also host a range of sporting activities. We are keen to install an outdoor gym that is free to use by the local community and work with local tutors to deliver outdoor fitness sessions across the community space, this could be gardening activities, yoga, dance, pilates, martial arts, Zumba, aerobics, and many other physical activities. Being an outdoor venue, this can be done in a way that people feel safe as a stepping stone back out to taking part in physical activities again.
The garden is the perfect environment for people of all ages to come together to learn, share knowledge, skills, and experience with others, across all ages and cultures. Literacy rates are low in our area for adults and children. n 2019 less than two thirds had achieved the expected level in reading at the end of primary school, compared to 73.8% nationally. This falls to less than half (48%) for children on school meals (Source: Literacy Trust, 2020). In response to this, we have created a storytellers area and outdoor theatre. We also host events such as readathons (non-stop reading for 4 hours) and invite the local library to bring their book bus at our events. We have plans for a storyteller's cabin to host a micro-library of resources to use in and around the garden and to offer an informal space for people to come and enjoy the love of reading and self-expression.
On a weekly basis, we distribute food to those in need across the community through the FareShare and Neighbourly schemes. We also help local people learn to grow food by sharing the growing experience with them. We also help people through peer support and increase their aspirations for themselves and their families. We want to continue to reach more people, with your support, we can. In March 2020 39.6% of children in our neighbourhood live in poverty and we want to continue to do everything we can to ensure that they do not go hungry and have access to nutritious food.
We grow in harmony with nature and promote lifestyles that do so too. We are creating a food forest that forms a natural ecosystem. We heal the environment at the same time as healing ourselves.
We are currently working on the following physical projects at the garden:
We have recently submitted a planning application to carry out the community-led vision for the garden.
The planning permission submitted is for resurfacing of the driveway and car park, a makers and menders workshop, a container for storage, an extra-large polytunnel, an outdoor community kitchen, an all accessible compost toilet, a volunteer hub, and a storytellers cabin.
The funding will help us to continue to open the garden for all those who need it the most.
We are going to continue to reach out to:
- those with physical disabilities, learning and developmental disabilities and/or with long term health conditions. We will improve our infrastructure and our activities so that they are as inclusive as can be, with the aim to improve sense of belonging and wellbeing.
- those who are socially isolated and those experiencing food poverty. We will host cooked community lunches and dinners with a takeaway food parcel.
- those looking to grow food, improve local biodiversity and decrease their environmental impact. We will develop the food forest alongside the young people in our area so that they can be ambassadors and watch it flourish throughout their lives.
With your support, we will reach more.
The funding will also contribute to us being able to:
- Continue to improve the accessibility of the garden for wheelchair users, the blind and partially sighted, and those unsteady on their feet. We aim to not only support those to get into and around the garden comfortably but also take part in all the activities we run.
- Install an outdoor gym beside the food forest that will be free to use by the local community
- Increase the number of outdoor educational workshops we deliver
- Deliver grow, cook and eat together sessions
- Continue to open the garden for our regular groups and key beneficiaries and expand our opening times to transform more lives.
- Continue to run the volunteer program that is lifechanging to many
As the garden is a large, open, community-managed space, we offer a safe environment for groups and individuals to access. These people have been looking for a place to come to be productive and feel a sense of belonging again. We are seeing at least 30 people per day that we are advertised as open and want to do this at least 5 days a week, with your support we can.
We have carried out annual surveys with our regular visitors and volunteers. Their feedback has informed the community-led vision for the garden.
Feedback from our latest wider community survey (Dogsthorpe residents only), results still coming in:
- 23 out of 52 respondents stated that they have been feeling more stressed, depressed, and/or anxious due to the pandemic
- 3 people have been finding it hard to afford food have been shielding
- 31 out of 52 want to grow food together
- 22 out of 52 would like health and wellbeing workshops
- 22 out of 52 would like regular coffee mornings
- 33 out of 52 felt that there was not enough opportunity for the community to get together in the local area
- 35 out of 52 would like to attend gardening activities for all ages
- 29 out of 52 want more workshops to help people improve confidence, aspirations, and employability skills
Visit our website (currently being updated): www.olivebranchcommunitygarden.org.uk
Check our out booklet that provides an overview of information: click here to view the brochure
View our first newsletter celebrating the signing of the 25-year lease: click here to view the newsletter
Any questions? Want to get involved? email [email protected]