Cultivating Change aims to build communities and connect and support them. Below are some profiles of some of our growers and the impact gardening has had on them.
Meet some of our #CultivatorsforChange
Dullingham Railway Station
Dullingham station, near Newmarket is part of the ‘Adopt a Station’ scheme’, which enables individuals or groups to adopt their local railway station and contribute to its use and welfare. It is a voluntary scheme ‘with station adopters playing an active role in keeping stations looking good through inventive gardening projects, creative community art projects, taking part in station ‘health checks’ or being the eyes and ears of their station ‘(Greater Anglia 2023).
Susan Park is one of these ‘station adopters’ and the inspiration behind making Dullingham station near Newmarket a community growing space, she is also one of our ‘Cultivatorsforchange’. Susan started the project about 5 years ago when she returned to Dullingham after living abroad.
Susan wanted to create a garden at the station and posted in the village newsletter and in the Facebook community group to see what the interest was. There was a great response, and a small working party was created to clear some of the overgrown areas at the station.
“We found walls that we did not know existed! We tried to get at least something to grow, but there was only hardcore rubble. Fortunately, we were donated some terracotta pots, and 4 butler sinks which with plants made an immediate impact. My husband and I collected free soil improver and finally things started to grow! Two talented local friends painted some recycled wooden doors, and we managed to create a small pond….”
Subsequently, there was more interest in the garden and Dullingham now has quite a large area of flower beds, which will hopefully attract wildlife and be enjoyed by passengers waiting at Dullingham and passing through on the train. There has been some positive feedback, which has made the having the garden very rewarding!
The station garden grows most of the plants from seed (some kindly donated by Cultivating Change) and cuttings from the group’s own gardens, and they benefit from garden vouchers donated by Greater Anglia, but these do not go very far!
Gardening at the station has also become a sociable activity along with all the other benefits to the environment. Dullingham has five Station Adopters and an additional three regular volunteers, they try to encourage people to drop in, to have a look at the garden and join them for a cup of tea, usually around 3pm on a Monday afternoon! An increasing number of the local community have also been involved, the local Beavers have planted sunflowers at the station, and they have had three baths donated, two of which have been converted into plant containers!
The power of the benefits of nature on wellbeing and connecting the community are so evident in this small station garden. Great Anglia awards accolades for ‘best stations’ which we are sure Susan and her team have a great chance to win!
The Olive Branch Community Garden in Peterborough. It was established in 2008 and has been a positive community initiative, growing ever since. We're really pleased that we are able to contribute, and that they have joined our community of growers #cultivatorsforchange
The Olive Branch is a place for communities to grow, providing social gardening, growing & volunteering opportunities, community events and courses. They have so many positive aspects that really align with our thinking at Cultivating Change and we love that their aims are to ...
Be a catalyst for positive change
Improve connections with self, neighbours, food & nature
- To help with social cohesion
Help to enhance overall health and wellbeing
Work towards reducing food poverty
Tessa from Olive Branch let us know how they are sharing the seeds in the community "we are distributing grow packs to local families and school children, some of the seeds will contribute to those and some will be grown at the garden for local people to share the food" We can’t wait to follow their growing journey over the next few months & hear about how they get on.
Dig It is a fabulous community horticulture & food growing project based in Saffron Walden, Essex. The aim of the charity initiative is to improve health, support positive wellbeing and reduce social isolation through gardening and environmental activities. Their plans and aims are so aligned with our ethos, they are a perfect match.
Their volunteer groups take part in a number of projects in the local community, but mainly from their community allotment site in Saffron Walden where their goal is to make fresh food available to all in need. They are guided by principles of Eco-Therapy (therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature) & Social Therapeutic Horticulture (the process of using plants & gardens to improve physical and mental health) which is the very backbone of Cultivating Change.
We can’t wait to see how the seeds from Cultivating Change help this inspiring initiative & the people it serves. .
To find out more about Dig It, follow them @digitallotment
Edible Guernsey are a wonderful charity based in Guernsey doing great work with 3 major goals. To create a local community growing initiative, to support local innovators to set up organic, small-scale food production and to educate the community on sustainable food production & practices.
The charity has a large space, including greenhouses which provide scope for growing, community events and an educational space.
We are so glad that with the support of @cnseeds we are able to help support them with seed donations. We can’t wait to see how Edible Guernsey gets on over the coming weeks & months.
The Big Sky Hideaway
"My wife Emma and I are so excited to start growing a garden. We’ve been on the move for a few years, leading expeditions and running an adventurous community called TheYesTribe.
We moved into a new home in Lincolnshire at the end of 2020 and are creating a little camping and glamping site with alpacas, alongside an orchard and garden. We call it The Big Sky Hideaway. We’re novice growers but have the time, the land and the will, and thankfully the support of Cultivating Change which is making everything a bit easier.
We’d like to create an experimental garden, a place where our community can visit and find ideas, confidence and skills that they can take home with them and implement, however much space they have."
By Dave Cornthwaite
The Goodmans’ story
"As a family we love being outdoors. The garden has always been an important place for us and never more so than during the lockdown this year.
During lockdown we were able to get the whole family gardening and growing thanks to seeds kindly donated by CN Seeds. The boys loved planting, nurturing and eating what they grew; it gave them a real sense of satisfaction & achievement. They learnt lots, found a new appreciation for food and found time in the garden gave them positive headspace.
We've spent hours in the garden since lockdown started in March and we've all felt positive benefits because of it.
On Sunday I had 2 hours in the garden and felt so much better. I feel calmer, more relaxed and much stronger after gardening"
"I am a mum of four children and have always loved the idea of ‘growing our own’. Subsequently, when lockdown started we decided to make some raised beds in the garden and build a greenhouse.
We planted lots of different types of seeds from CN Seeds and looking after them became a daily activity. The children loved watering and picking the vegetables which they then made into delicious dishes for dinner.
They felt so proud that they had produced it and it definitely encouraged them to eat more veg! I noticed how happy the children were being outdoors and I am so looking forward to growing more seeds in the future!"
"As a 'newbie' grower, starting last year with a garden redesign, being given seeds from Dan and Sal at CN Seeds was a lifesaver through lockdown for my husband and I.
The excitement we get from watching the seeds germinate and grow right through to being able to pick our own vegetables is indescribable – and I've discovered that we're not alone in that feeling!
We've also connected with so many new people, as well as friends, on social media in such a lovely way. They've either been inspired to grow their own by seeing what I've been doing, or are already experienced growers and happy to give advice when needed.
Who knew that from simply growing seeds; a seed of an idea – Cultivating Change would grow. The initiative has not only already helped Sal find a purpose, but will help so many people suffering from mental health issues and loneliness in a very practical way."
“Nurturing plants helps us all to get things into perspective. Nature is a massive healer."
"Thank you for the salad mix seeds, they are now salad and have delivered to our local food bank."
"Thank you very much for the seeds, the children at our schools are very excited about planting them."