Former rough sleepers brought together by gardening initiative
Published by RoyP for Sovereign Housing Association in Communities and also in Housing
The gardening project has given the Craftes Court residents a greater sense of community
A community of former rough sleepers in Bristol is enjoying the fruits of their labour three months after a community gardening project was set up there.
The project was started by Sovereign Housing Association at Craftes Court, a development in the Speedwell area consisting of 12 properties providing much-needed accommodation for rough sleepers.
Many of the residents often move on quickly and have additional support needs, sometimes causing disruption and making it hard for the community to gel.
When Sovereign staff spotted the opportunity to make the most of a communal space and turn it into a fruit and vegetable garden, the residents were delighted. By working with Places for People and Project Agora, a specialist gardening company, the Craftes Court Growing Project was born.
“We wanted the project to help create an improved sense of home and community at Craftes Court. It was important to us that residents were able to take ownership of the garden and really get involved,” said Louise Bradberry, the Housing Officer who initiated the project.
Since May residents have been working closely with housing staff and professional gardeners to design, plant and manage the new garden. Weekly half-day sessions have included training on growing fresh fruit and veg, general gardening advice and even outdoor cooking lessons.
Resident Paul Quinney moved in to Craftes Court from a homeless hostel around four months ago and has been a key part of the garden project.
“Sharing communal areas can be challenging, so it’s great that people are coming out to discuss how we can use this land” said Paul.
“I’ve always had green fingers and been part of several gardening projects. I’d love to see this space grow as a garden and to have people come together on a Sunday to dig up our fruit and veg to eat. I’ll take my hat off to all the staff who have helped get the project off the ground.”
Sovereign has contributed over £5,000 to fund the services of professional gardeners, equipment and maintenance for two years.
Charlie Hanson, the gardener from Project Agora leading the Craftes Court Growing Project, said: “Paul’s been fantastic. There have been different levels of involvement, but people have been working well together to make decisions. We’re looking at using sustainable materials to help create an organic veg garden and space residents can enjoy here. It’s been really great so far.”