Growing Together is a unique new partnership of voluntary sector organisations, which aims to unlock land for community growing use.
Growing Together aims to support the development of hundreds of sustainable community growing projects, such as gardens, farms, allotments and other green spaces. It does this by blending ‘alternative philanthropy’ (the donation of land, time and skills) with cutting-edge fundraising, such as crowdfunding, community share issues and land donations, to give local community groups the finance, land and resources they need.
Led by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG), the project is a response to the ongoing high demand for community growing spaces, which are currently in short supply (the waiting list for allotments is around 100,000-strong, according to FCFCG). It’s also about social cohesion – bringing people together to make their neighbourhoods a better place and learn new skills.
Growing Together is an umbrella project, and FCFCG is working with partners (such as environmental groups, landowners and volunteers) who share its vision, to help turn this into reality. Its main aim is to give community growing groups the tools to become financially sustainable, by working together to devise new ways of giving.
This project involves the giving of money, time, assets and skills in many ways – from professional volunteers helping with negotiations or construction; landowners donating land; community groups catalysing action in their locality; individuals coming together to buy or rent land in their local area, and more.
As of March 2014, Growing Together has:
• Brought together 12 key national partners and unlocked under-used land on six sites.
• Developed expertise in community shares, crowdfunding, workplace growing and digital income generation.
• Developed various support packages to improve access to land, skills, time and finance for community growing groups.
• Identified funding sources to support an expanded programme into the future.
Growing Together was awarded £50,000 in the second round of the fund to develop the range of investment opportunities proposed, and to develop simple guidance on how these might be used in combination with tried and tested funding options and social media platforms.
Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens has since secured several other grants, including £95,261 from John Ellerman Foundation in February 2014 towards the cost of identifying and developing best practices in community growing initiatives across the UK.