There has been something about the last few weeks. It seems as if everyone in Aberdeen has decided to get growing! I’ve been approached by a number of groups, organisations and individuals this month, with ideas for community gardens ranging from the relatively tame and small-scale to the ambitious and potentially large scale. Whether small or big, every excited phone call, or enthusiastic chat over a coffee is worth my time, and helps me to know that I must be doing something right. Arguably, no idea is small, as each one has the potential to blossom into something that makes a real impact on the community.

I see it as a testimony to the hard work that we’ve done that people turn to us with these ideas, looking for support and encouragement. It shows that we’ve built trust within our communities as a hub for community growing.

First, I got a message from a local man who has big ideas for helping people grow in their back gardens. He told me that he owned and managed a restaurant for 15 years, which sadly had to close down during the COVID-19 pandemic. But he’s found the positive in it and told me that he’s ready to give something back to the community, and this project is his way of doing that. Watch this space!

Some few days later I received a phone call from a woman who oversees a community outreach gardening initiative for adults with learning disabilities, and her part-time garden worker had left quite suddenly as he’d taken on a full-time role. The allotment was becoming overgrown, and the council inspectors were threatening to take it away from them! This was a crisis for CFINE Community Growing! I was able to quickly link her up with a trusted worker experienced in gardening who was able to take on the job almost immediately and ensure that the council were aware that the matter was in hand. If required, I can continue to provide additional support through my role so that the service users and local residents alike get the most out of it.

Also this month, I was invited to speak at Aberdeen’s Social Isolation Working Group, who had heard about the impact that the Keep Growing Aberdeen project has been having and wanted to know more. I got a lot of positive engagement with the talk I gave and a handful of fruitful new contacts. One of these contacts was an Aberdeen based development officer working with care homes. We met over coffee and set the world to rights - mulling over everything ‘our society needs’ and how community growing fits into this. By the end of it, we reigned ourselves in and agreed that as a first step we would consider what could be done to bring community gardens to Care Home grounds in Aberdeen. I had my first meeting re this the following week with a care home manager to discuss piloting this at a local care home. More news to follow!

Rebecca Dunn - Community Growing Development Worker, CFINE