Darley Road Gardening Project

Darley Road Gardening Project

This partnership, funded through the univerity's On Our Doorsteps programme, connects up staff and students, local residents and users of local community organisations to use campus green space to garden. Aiming to establish a community of collaborative horticulture and food growers this project utilises the physical and intellectual resources of the university with the community on topics of occupational therapy, green exercise and leisure gardening.

This project is an excellent example of the sharing of resources in response to community need. It also demonstrates how the willingness of the university to engage has made a contribution locally. People are gaining new skills, improving their wellbeing and accessing fresh produce, friendships and enjoyment. A number of student placements have now been arranged with local organisations using the allotments which further support them in their service delivery.

The project breaks down barriers between the university and community and getting to know each other through gardening together has built more neighbourly relationships. This has also resulted in the positive enhancement of the university’s profile locally and a wider awareness of their core activities.

The community of growers is increasing, and the project hopes to extend the amount of space available and develop activities that will link to food education and policy. Without this project some local residents would not have the opportunity to come out and grow and the local community groups involved are better able to support the wellbeing of their service users.

The area local to the campus has a high percentage of flats where residents don’t have their own outside space and there is a high percentage of older residents, some of whom are considered isolated. Local organisations working with mental health service users and disability told us they want to prioritise gardening as a positive activity for wellbeing but find a lack of space locally in which to do this. Over 25 staff, students and residents now each share allotment beds whilst a further 12 from community groups have their own area to grow in.

Harvey Ells Principal lecturer, School of Sport & Service Management H.Ells@brighton.ac.uk

Tania Wiseman Senior Lecturer, School of Health Professions T.J.Wiseman@brighton.ac.uk