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Awards, Youth Forum and UK wide events – the year that Social Farms & Gardens celebrate their 40th

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Logo: Social Farms & Gardens - celebrating 40 years

This year, Social Farms & Gardens are celebrating their 40th anniversary - marking 40 years of farming, gardening and growing together by holding a series of events and activities.

Who we are and what we do:

Wheelbarrows at Windmill Hill City Farm, Bristol (Social Farms & Gardens)
Wheelbarrows at Windmill Hill City Farm, Bristol (Social Farms & Gardens)

Social Farms & Gardens are a UK wide charity on a mission to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the environment through nature-based activities.

Our members are at the heart of our work and right now we are supporting over 1500 groups – with the number growing stronger every day. They are made up of grass root organisations - from small fruit and veg plots on urban housing estates to large-scale rural care farms and we have been proudly supporting their work in transforming lives and connecting people for 40 years.

Our key areas of work are:

Advocacy - we advocate and campaign for greater recognition, funding and opportunities for nature-based activities; presenting a united voice for organisations and groups delivering these opportunities on the ground.

Membership - we provide expert advice, support and a FREE membership scheme offering a range of discounts on training, equipment and services - supporting communities to grow in sustainable ways.

Herding cows on a care farm (Social Farms & Gardens)
Herding cows on a care farm (Social Farms & Gardens)

Training - we design and deliver innovative training programmes which empower and enable communities to thrive and grow; providing practical support and training UK wide to thousands.

Building for the future - we forge pathways for our members to access commissioned services and demonstrate that they deliver high quality provision. We promote income generating opportunities for organisations and groups to ensure they can sustain their activities.

Our Story:

The 1960s saw community managed gardens taking control of many derelict and under-used sites in London, leading to the first city farm, Kentish Town City Farm, being set up in 1972 shortly followed by other sites. The National Federation of City Farms was launched in 1980 to provide support and advocate on their behalf.

This was the birth of the charity, which later merged with Care Farming UK, and is now known as Social Farms & Gardens. HRH The Prince of Wales became our Patron in 2001, and we are also very lucky to have Lord Curry of Kirkharle as our president. These days we have offices in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Why we exist

Pigs on a community farm (Social Farms & Gardens)
Pigs on a community farm (Social Farms & Gardens)

Connection to the natural world is proven to benefit wellbeing and mental health. Being outdoors and engaging in activities such as gardening, or farm work has significant benefits including reduced anxiety, improved mood and self-esteem. But it’s not just about being outside; it’s about taking part in meaningful activity and having a social network which has such a massive positive impact on reducing isolation - a major risk factor in terms of mental health.

A programme in Birmingham, delivering new community gardens recently surveyed those taking part - and 87% of respondents said they had made new friends by being part of the programme.

Green community spaces are a vital lifeline for so many people. This quote from Tom, an 18-year-old apprentice and part of Greenmeadow Community Farm, one of our members in Wales, really gets this across –

“If I hadn't come to a community farm, I'd probably be in a jail cell - these places give kids an opportunity in life”.

Tom’s experience gives a flavour of how important these services are to people – we so frequently hear these stories from our members, so it is vital that we are able to support them to do their work.

Since our formation in 1980 to current day, we have led a vast number of diverse high-profile farming, growing and gardening projects on a local, UK wide and EU level.

Our current work ranges from: educational initiatives which connect children with food, farming and the natural environment (UK wide Julia Donaldson Stick Man trails for families, School Farms Network); vocational education and training for adults which support community and urban gardens to thrive (Gardeniser Pro); services to make more land available for community growing (Community Land Advisory Service) plus a wide range of country specific projects that work to support and promote community growing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Our EU partnership project (UGAIN) is supporting the social integration of migrants and refugees through community and intercultural gardens; and we are transforming the scale of care farming (the therapeutic use of farming and gardening) to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities through our Growing Care Farming project, which is part of the Government’s Children and Nature Programme, supported by Defra.

The 40th celebrations:

2020 will be packed full of 40th celebrations and activities that everyone can get involved with. Highlights include:

  • Monthly events UK wide including the European Federation of City Farms Conference and Growing Care Farming Conference
  • 40th Anniversary SF&G Awards – open to any group that is improving the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the environment through nature-based activities. Award categories include everything from best response to climate change, to recognition for innovation and involvement of young people, and much more, with winners receiving their awards at the House of Lords.
  • From February there will be a new chance for younger people to get involved, through the launch of our Youth Forum - an exciting opportunity for young people to help direct and shape our plans going forwards.
  • We will also be shining a spotlight on the inspiring initiatives that are increasing sustainability, biodiversity and the wellbeing of people and communities through 40 years, 40 stories – on our social media and website.

Details on all of these activities can be found on our 40th Anniversary website page https://www.farmgarden.org.uk/our-40th-anniversary and on Facebook and Twitter

Bee on an allotment (Social Farms & Gardens)
Bee on an allotment (Social Farms & Gardens)

For other ways to connect with Social Farms & Gardens you can:

Become a member for free - open to any organisation delivering nature-based activities that improve people’s lives. Member benefits include a range of services, discounts on training, tools, seeds and much more.

Book training or consultancy - with over 50 years’ experience supporting a diverse high-profile farming, growing and gardening projects on a local, UK wide and EU level; we can support organisations with the very best consultancy and training.

Corporate enquiries - businesses can help communities grow well together. If you want to help us improve lives and communities, as well as getting some great PR, benefiting your employees and enhancing your working environment then get in contact.

Make a donation - help support an organisation improving the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the environment every day of the year.

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