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#CoProWeekScot: Garden Buddies and off-shoots

Posted November 18th 2019 by Ruth Noble

This Co-Production week, we’re sharing stories from our projects which show how beneficial co-production can be, starting with Garden Buddies. For more info on this topic, see our ‘Hints and Tips on Effective Co-Production‘.

Garden Buddies is a multigenerational growing project in the Scottish Borders, with a strong social element. It began as an off-shoot of our peer support dementia program Food Buddies. Over time other groups and partners were asking how they could get involved in the activities.  We worked with them in different ways to adapt and evolve the project to suit them. Here is the story of how the different ‘offshoots’ grew.

It all began with Peebles Community Action Network (CAN) a community growing project with lots of space and, at the time, not much funding to pay workers. It is in the grounds of Victoria Park Day Centre, a facility for people living with dementia and those with learning disabilities. It also houses the Food Foundation (a community food project for people with learning disabilities).

We spoke to all the users of the building and began to work in the garden with some of the people living with dementia and the staff. Sometimes the people with learning disabilities joined in too. After a year we made connections with Community Learning and Development who were working with local school pupils – soon the pupils were joining in too, providing extra muscle power and banter with the older folk. Our funding from the Community Food & Health Scotland and The Stafford Trust allowed us to purchase raised beds (built by the Community Justice Team Pay back team) and other sundries such as food, seeds, etc.

Building on the success of this ‘pilot’, we visited a dementia-friendly garden in Dumbarton (Alzheimer Scotland/funded by Life Changes Trust) where volunteers showed us what made the garden work for people living with dementia. We brought this learning back to the Borders and shared it with our partners at Peebles CAN, as well as with other community gardens (Tweedgreen’s Secret Garden) and St Ronan’s Wells. We were also able to purchase raised beds, even pathways and sturdy garden furniture for these gardens. This benefitted other groups such as the Macmillan Cancer Group who work at the Secret Garden, and people from St Ronan’s Care Home in Innerleithen.

Garden Buddies from Outside The Box on Vimeo.

Some of funding even stretched to coastal Eyemouth – where we partnered with Borders Healthy Living Network for a new project (‘LINKS Eyemouth’) with families. This project has been led by young mums returning to work with support from some professionals as well as early years, church groups and local cafes. It has involved a number of diverse and creative sessions including a pizza cookout, Halloween pumpkin carving and soup making, and a baby weaning session. It is directed by what the families want and ways of working well with other groups and services in the area (e.g. Abundant Borders, community fridge, Connect Youth project).

Because there is a real need and demand for these projects, and because the community groups themselves have been empowered to take charge, these projects have all become self-sufficient and although Outside the Box are still supporting them in the background, the groups are flourishing on their own.

Learn more about the project here. 

 

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