‘Grow Community – Sopwell‘ is a local group of volunteers in Sopwell ward, St Albans, supporting people to grow their own food at home and in community spaces. Join our mailing list for occasional updates on what we’re up to. We enjoy a bit of cooking along the way – and love to involve all ages including children – in #GrowYourOwn. We enjoy putting on events about growing food and looking after our local community spaces to:
1. Promote the benefits of sustainable, localised food production.
2. Promote the benefit of reduced food waste.
3. Encourage and enable local residents to grow their own food at
home and in community spaces, reduce food waste, share surplus food
in the community and with local charity groups.
4. Promote wildlife conservation and restoration projects and
encourage local residents to participate in these projects.
5. Connect ongoing initiatives and bring the community together
through activities related to the above aims (e.g. growing and preserving
food, building infrastructure, competitions, providing food for local
events, wildlife events).
You can help support us by donating here:
What’s Coming Up…
Our News and Events
Join our mailing list for occasional updates on news and events.
- Community Growing Working Parties
We’re starting monthly working parties at our two sites of the Abbots Avenue West planters and the new Berners Drive Community Garden. Email us at growsopwell
@gmail.com for more information on how to take part.
- Community Garden news
We’re half way through our Zoom community engagement sessions with Alison Findlay and Claire Davitt from the RHS, to help design our garden. Delivering this content by Zoom is new to the RHS, but we’ve been really impressed with the delivery and so very, very grateful for their help!
We know Zoom isn’t for everyone, or the timings don’t suit, so do get in touch if you’d like to be more involved with the design process offline. We’d really love your input.
More details on what we’ve been covering in the Zoom sessions and how to get involved can be found here . Do watch the videos for inspiration, contribute to the polls and work up a design for us! Keep an eye out here, on social media and in the next newsletter to find out more of our progress on the garden. We’ll be turning it into reality in the very near future. Exciting!
- #ShowTheLove Half Term Activity for Children
Grow Community – Sopwell are supporting The Climate Coalition’s #ShowTheLove campaign by providing a fun activity for children over the half-term; encouraging a more plant-based diet and learning food growing skills.
Come and collect free pea seeds and an information pack from our seed and seedling stall at 71 Leyland Avenue. The pack also includes a Green Heart poster to display in your window.
More info on carbon emissions from common foods: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualising-the-greenhouse-gas-impact-of-each-food/
- The Big Reveal: Your new Community Garden site!
After a recent council engagement exercise in relation to the site of the new community garden in Sopwell, we are pleased to announce that the community garden will be created next to the Berners Drive play area.
Over the coming months, work to install the garden will take place. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the area!
The Engagement Response
The Berners Drive site was selected by the majority of respondents (42%).
The majority of local residents who responded to the engagement were in favour of a community garden in the area, citing community wellbeing and increased food-growing skills:
“Good to build local community food growing capability and knowledge and bring the community together.”
“Exactly the sort of project we should be encouraging with positive environmental and community aspects.”
The Berners Drive site was favoured due to it being a relatively safe place away from main roads, being central in the ward, and being an area that many residents pass by.
You can read the full report of the engagement exercise on our website here:
The Community Garden
The garden will grow edible and wildlife-friendly plants without pesticides or artificial fertilisers.
Phase I: Initially, the site will consist of two raised beds for growing fruit and vegetables. These will be bordered by a variety of edible, wildlife-friendly and attractive low-maintenance plants (outlined in green on the site plan).
Sustainability infrastructure (for compost/water) and a bench will be added later.
This will be gradually expanded over time to a size of approximately 250 square metres (outlined in red on the site plan).
Sopwell residents will be invited to help care for the plants, and to pick them for eating when they are ready. Monthly maintenance and teaching sessions will take place at the garden in accordance with current coronavirus guidelines. Additionally, where Lockdown rules allow, occasional small community events may take place there.
Residents will be encouraged to walk or cycle to the garden so as not to cause traffic and parking issues.
We are committed to working with all local residents to ensure that the garden enhances both the area and our community’s wellbeing. Two similar projects in the city centre are very popular with local residents.
Find Out More
Thank you if you have shown interest in the garden so far. If you would like to get involved, would like more information, or if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns, please email us on GrowSopwell@gmail.com and we will get back to you. You may also contact Peggy Sharp, SADC Community Engagement Officer, Equalities and Grants Community Services (Preferably by email: Peggy.Sharp@stalbans.gov.uk or telephone: 01727 819340). We really hope that you can support and enjoy the community garden and we look forward to meeting you at the site in the future. You can find out more about our group and projects on our website and social media channels
- Community garden – coming soon!
Next weekend, we will officially announce our plans for Sopwell’s community garden.
Over the next few months, once a week, we will be putting on one-hour long Zoom planning and design sessions. These will be led by Alison Findlay, our Royal Horticultural Society community advisor, as part of Growing Connections, an RHS Support Programme.
We’d love for you to come along to these sessions and contribute your ideas for this community-led project.
Please complete this Doodle poll to let us know which dates and times EACH WEEK you are able to attend, and we will work out the dates that will suit the most people.
Zoom link and further details to follow.
*** If you are unable to attend Zoom sessions, there will be opportunities for you to contribute offline too. ***
Please email email@example.com for further information.
- The Big Winter Wander Activity Trail – POSTPONED
THIS ACTIVITY HAS BEEN POSTPONED. PLEASE KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR WHEN IT RETURNS.
NATURE HAS BEEN A GIFT TO OFFER US COMFORT AND MUCH-NEEDED ESCAPE DURING DIFFICULT TIMES, AND NOW IT’S OUR TIME TO GIVE BACK.
That’s why we’re inviting you to head out for a walk with a difference.
In January, follow our competition activity trail around Sopwell’s community wildlife areas, answering a question at every point and raising money for the World Wildlife Fund along the way.
Visit justgiving.com/fundraising/growcommunity to donate to WWF.
Pick up an activity trail competition form from the stall at 71 Leyland Avenue or email us for a printable copy (available nearer the time). To be part of the prize draw, return your completed entries to 71 Leyland Avenue by 1st February 2021. Details of the prize will be announced in the New Year!
***Don’t forget to wear suitable footwear, take care on slippy paths and do be careful crossing the roads. As always, follow current coronavirus guidelines***
- 5 Dec 2020: Wreath making
Thank you to local resident Joanna Ramasawmy for running such a great event, and to everyone who took part sharing greenery and making wreaths. You can see a collage of the beautiful creations on our Facebook group.
- Grow Community – Sopwell: Annual Report published for 2020
- Donate your produce to the local Foodbank
The Foodbank donations box is now out at the stall on Leyland Avenue every Saturday until Tuesday.
Please consider popping a little something from your harvests in to help ensure Sopwell residents in need get some fresh produce each week.
There are clean punnets and hand sanitiser available.
Located on a driveway at the end of Leyland Avenue.
Please follow coronavirus guidelines and walk/cycle if you are able to.
- National recognition for Grow Community – Sopwell’s Chair
We are incredibly proud to announce that Kate Swindells, the driving force behind Grow Community – Sopwell, has been included in the Independent newspaper’s Happy List 2020. The list celebrates people doing remarkable things to unite communities during the pandemic. Kate was secretly nominated by a local Sopwell resident for “all [she’s] done for so many of us in Sopwell, especially during Lockdown, and for what [she] will no doubt continue to do in the future”. We are so lucky to have someone of her heart, vision and determination to inspire the community. Well done Kate!
@independent #happylist2020 @GrowSopwell
Find out more here.