Nurture Community CIC worked so hard in 2023 to pull off a great project which involved people of all ages and backgrounds getting their hands dirty and growing veg! Here is some detail, taken from their final report.
Managed by Nurture CIC, with support from Community Partners (Brand Remarkable, Worship Food and Emma Cooper Artist), the project aimed to support local community groups to grow food crops which can be used in cooking classes and for educational purposes. Recipe sharing was encouraged with the production of a cookery book and online resource. This was funded by Tesco Groundworks and Transition Lichfield after a grant was obtained from Staffs CC Climate Change Fund.
The project supported groups from all generations, bringing isolated communities together to build intergenerational connections and friendships. Sessions were tailored around planting, creating and cooking. Beginning in June 2023 and concluding in October 2023, there were eight weeks of sessions with a weekly theme, with 16 sessions across two groups in total.
Session 1: Design, Sow and Grow Week
Session 2: Allocate Equipment Week
Session 3: Plant Week
Session 4: Create Recipes Week
Session 5: Cooking Week
Session 6: Vegetable Print Week
148 beneficiaries were impacted over the course of the project, including staff (from the care home and youth club) who were given new skills and activity ideas for their ongoing community support.
This pilot project involved two groups with differing outcomes. The Spires (Care Home) group exceeded expectations by cultivating crops, incorporating them into their menu, through discussions with the residents and chef, and starting a gardening club in late June. The unexpected positive aspect was the level of community involvement, driven by residents' interests and expertise, that continued outside the time of the face-to-face contact of the project and has developed further since the project was completed.
The project improved residents' moods and inspired participation in various community initiatives, including the Crop Club. It boosted their confidence and facilitated skills sharing with staff. Other team members, such as the chef and grounds staff, also contributed, which was an expected benefit.
Furthermore, the project uncovered neglected Mexican tomatoes in the garden, motivating families of residents to join in sessions like vegetable printing. This intergenerational connection enhanced the overall project narrative, addressing residents' self-esteem and mental health while positively impacting the community.
For Fun Club Hub CIO (the youth group), additional sessions at Beacon Park allowed the leaders to actively engage in community projects. Parents also became involved, highlighting an unexpected intergenerational aspect, taking it beyond the youth's ages (mostly between the school ages of Years 7-9.) They consistently supported the project's direction, including a Saint Foye cleanup at Beacon Park and discussions about finding a community space.
Peapods and herbs were grown for members to take home, and the neglected Saint Foye space was revitalized through collaboration with Lichfield Parks, leading to a volunteer cleanup event. Both of these were unexpected, valued additions to the project. Additional dates have been pencilled in to continue the clean-up in the latter months of 2023.
There were lots of lessons learned...
- Intergenerational projects are vital but challenging due to scheduling constraints, including timeframes, lunch breaks, and visitor availability for both those over 60 years of age, and those who are of school age.
- It’s essential to respect existing routines and engagement patterns, which helped to spark curiosity among participants in intergenerational activities.
- Make the project relevant to participants by linking it to their favourite foods, creating a literal relationship between planting and enjoyment.
- Consider health considerations, especially in cases of dementia, and provide physical prompts, like hard copy pictures, to assist with memory to support their participation.
- This project challenged our, and staffs, assumptions about care home residents' interests and autonomy, empowering them to express their food preferences and choices.
- Plan for at least two, possibly three, facilitators for more direct 1:1 support, especially when residents may have difficulty writing or marking.
- The project team had underestimated the level of interest from participants from all age groups, many engaged with the project through social media, or internal word of mouth, and became invested in its success as it developed. This meant participation numbers grew over the length of the project term.
A website was created by our partners, and used throughout the project: