At Garden Supplies we work with a range of clients, all of which provide a variety of services. One in particular that we wanted to talk to you about was Down to Earth. A Community interest Company, they use their profits to help local communities. We think the work they do is fantastic and we are very pleased to be able to get involved with their projects and work with such an amazing team. That is why we wanted to take some time to look at what they do and a couple of their projects.
Who are Down to Earth?
Down to Earth is an organisation that supports residents and communities throughout Gloucestershire and encourages them to grow their own food. Did you know that in the UK we only grow about 40% of our own food? That is why Down to Earth feel it is important that more people are given the opportunity to have more control over their food supply. With around 23 million gardens in the UK and plenty of other allotments and wasted land, their aim is to help put this land to good use. Their mission includes:
- Increasing access to fresh nutritious food
- Encouraging a re-connection with nature
- Supporting people to develop a range of gardening-based self-employment opportunities
- Continually developing best practices in regards to a bio-diverse environment
- Working towards helping the environment by reducing the number of miles food travels
- Helping the development of knowledge about healthy food
They have many projects that they run, including 5 growing schemes across the county where they do gardening on prescription. Their projects include the Fruit Exchange, the Stroud Community Seed Bank and the Vale Community Hospital Allotment Scheme.
Let’s take a look at a couple of their projects.
Vale Community Hospital Allotment Scheme
Launched in 2016, this project at Vale Community Hospital in Dursley was developed with the aim of providing gardening on prescription. Gardening on prescription has grown as more research has surfaced that shows how beneficial it is. The use of gardening therapy can help with a range of conditions, including physical and mental health problems as well as obesity, stress and social isolation.
The allotment project at Vale Community Hospital was developed for 3 years by Down to Earth founder Amanda Godber and GP Dr Simon Opher. The goal was to link healthy eating with physical activity by developing unused land at the front of the hospital. This was done by converting it into a suite of allotments for the local community to use. As of 2019 over 51 allotments had been installed and the area was fully landscaped with flowers and herbs as well as fruit trees to create a small orchard. Allotments are available through social prescription or for local individuals who just want to get involved.
This scheme was recently visited by BBC CountryFile in a program about projects throughout Stroud and Gloucestershire.
Cinderford Medical Centre
A fantastic project for the well-being of the local community, Down to Earth created allotments for the new Cinderford Medical Centre. The aim of the project is to give the local community some independence, confidence and a way to combat social isolation. It is a chance for local residents to come together to grow fruits, vegetables and plants.
Even with the disruption of COVID-19 and some very wet and cold British weather, the volunteers have still managed to work safely to make progress. So far, they have installed many beds to grow strawberries, red onions, broad beans and garlic and have also installed blackcurrant bushes. More recently they have received fruit trees, including 2 pear trees, 2 cherry trees and 2 plum trees. With the addition of a brand-new shed and several compost bins, it really is shaping up to be a vibrant area for people to utilise. We are extremely proud to say that we have personally helped with this amazing project with a delivery of Melcourt Top Soil.
Down to Earth is a brilliant organisation and we are happy to be able to help with their projects. Garden Supplies has also recently supported their Churchdown Community Garden with both products and the donation of plants and labour. It’s all for a great cause and we’re always happy to help.