Up The Garden Bath and Gladstone Connect gardening project inspires community in Peterborough.

A special 26-week community gardening project at Gladstone Connect has inspired the next generation of Peterborough’s green-fingered growers, with help from Up The Garden Bath.
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The award-winning community group received a £9,000 grant from Cambridge Community Foundation earlier this year to run a weekly, urban gardening group at the Cromwell Road site, which has recently come to an end.

Throughout this time, the team have taught families to plant and tend vegetables while forming new friendships with their neighbours.

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The latest ‘Give It A Grow’ project - in one of Peterborough’s most diverse areas - comes as Up The Garden Bath estimates it has interacted with as many as 500 residents in Millfield since starting work in the area several years ago.

Up The Garden Bath co founder Kez Hayes Palmer inspires future generations. Up The Garden Bath co founder Kez Hayes Palmer inspires future generations.
Up The Garden Bath co founder Kez Hayes Palmer inspires future generations.

Together, residents and volunteers alike during that time have helped to maintain the pollinator park and community garden.

‘Creating social cohesion’

Project co-founder Kez Hayes-Palmer felt delighted to lead the team in the garden. She said: “Working in the Gladstone Connect garden for several years, we have seen the difference green spaces can make to families who don’t have their own gardens and to the community.

“We love watching the plants grow but we are truly touched to see the way that growing plants brings communities together and creates social cohesion.

Residents of Millfield 'Give it a grow' Residents of Millfield 'Give it a grow'
Residents of Millfield 'Give it a grow'
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“This year we have worked with even more residents, inspiring them to ‘Give It A Grow’.”

Millfield has fewer green spaces than any other area in Peterborough and is one of the most underfunded areas of the city.

Co-founder of Up The Garden Bath, Dave Poulton, said that this project has taken on added importance after the recent passing of volunteer Janet Hagan, 84.

He explained “Janet was extraordinary and had a positive impact on everyone she met & even at 84, she was still doing what she could to help the community”.

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“She will always be our 'Queen of Hearts’ and we will now allocate an area at the centre to create a memorial garden in her honour.”

‘Catalyst for improving community development’

Michelle Bush-Batty, who has recently left her role as Gladstone Connect Centre manager, after three-and-a-half years, said the garden has been a haven for families who have moved to Peterborough from other countries.

Michelle first started working with Up The Garden Bath in 2019 when the Community Interest Company (CIC) installed their first ever recycled bathtub in the Iqbal Centre garden.

Then, in early 2020, after taking on the role of manager at the centre, she met with both Dave and Kez, just before lockdown, with the idea to start a community garden.

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She said: “We would design, build and create a safe space (socially distanced) to encourage local community members to come back together, learn how to grow their own food, harvest this food and use the tools and knowledge learned going forward to create their own green areas at home and lovingly tend to the community garden created.

“During that year we had over 200 visitors to our community garden from children and young people to the elderly and all from a range of backgrounds and cultures.

“The garden has always been a sanctuary, Dave and Kez have continually provided access to a safe space where everyone felt welcome and activities were planned from watering plants and weeding to planting and making seed bombs.”

Within four years, the garden has been lovingly tended and has wielded an array of vegetables, fruits, herbs and medicinal plants.

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Funding for ‘Give It A Grow’ has helped to make sure educational gardening continued at the site for another six months; however, funding has now ended.

Michelle added: “The community members in Millfield will miss the opportunities to socialise, improve their mental health and enjoy their harvested food but I hope that the great knowledge gathered from Up The Garden Bath will continue to yield more green spaces, improved health and well-being and connecting more people within the community.

“It is safe to say the work Up The Garden Bath have done in the centre has been a catalyst for improving neighbourhood and community development, cross cultural and inter-generational connection, preserving green space and self-reliance through food production.

“I felt happier and more productive after helping the team in the garden even just for 10 minutes and I hope this work continues across the city as Up The Garden Bath delivers more programmes where it’s needed, enriching many more lives across different communities. I was not green-fingered at all but can confidently say that now, even in my own garden, I have enough experience to ‘Give It A Grow’!”

You more information visit www.upthegardenbath.co.uk or find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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