Sown in Bolton in Pictures 2017

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Sown in Bolton 2017

Its that time of the year again when the season is quickly moving into autumn, and with this comes the end of this years Sown in Bolton project. So here is a little in the way of a story about how this years project unfolded this year.

In early 2017 fearful that years project wasn’t going to happen we began an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to work with a hundred cash strapped families helping them to grow their own food. Despite a lot of interest being shown in the campaign we were unable to meet the required amount of pledges, but since this was our first time ever of using this method of fundraising we have learned exactly where we went wrong and will run a new campaign to help fund our work in 2018.

So despite the crowdfunder not being successful we were still able to deliver Sown in Bolton food growing project to thirty two families across the borough due to smaller donations that were made independently of the crowdfunder from organizations and individuals.

Collaborative work

This year as with previous years delivering this project we worked with some non Bolton at Home tenants by delivering food growing resources and advise to two families living in Irwell Valley Housing Association properties in Breightmet, with a further three families from the same association who have shown an interest in wanting to grow their own food in 2018.

  so we would like to say a big thank you to Natalie and Amanda and Paul the Irwell Valley tenants we worked with on Monks Lane for participating in this years project.


Social Background of growers

All of our thirty two families that took part in this years project live in social housing, all families involved fall into low income categories, including some working families who at some point during the last 12 months have needed to access foodbanks for daily sustenance.  Around a quarter of growers have some long term ongoing health issues.

Lessons learned for adaptation and future delivery

As is the case with every project there are things that work and things that don’t, and things that need a little adaptation. Without rambling on for pages and pages about this here is a simple and short list of adaptations which we will be implementing into next years project.

  • Offer growers the opportunity to undertake accredited Horticultural training based on a rolling course for families with children and people with disabilities who would find it difficult attending a venue.
  • To expand the workdays of the project to two days a week to enable us to develop a closer working relationship with our prospective growers and to ramp up the amount of food in each garden.
  • To have regular weekly onsite help from a volunteer who is interested in horticulture and community growing helping to deliver the project with us.

Personal thoughts

This is the part where I say all thoughts and opinions are all my own, but seriously. I,m sure that I don’t need to go into the finer details about the current state of affairs that finds well over million families having to access food Banks out of absolute necessity, many of whom are in work who simply don’t earn enough because of low pay, Similarly the harsh effects of benefits legislation and cuts only fans the flames of greater food insecurity and perpetuate the manufactured hunger that is being imposed on people on benefits and the low paid.

So for ourselves rooted in social justice and the ethics and principles of permaculture it makes perfect sense to provide people with the skills and resources needed to grow as much of their own food as they are able to.

The more people grow their own the less dependence they have on cash money and the current Ponzi scheme economic model, and of course less carbon generated by transportation and a woefully outdated agriculture method.  The more people take up home growing the greater the chance of a local food economy coming to life, but most importantly people get to eat healthy cleanly grown food that is usually out of their price range whether they have money or not.


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Men in Sheds @ Breightmet Hub

Breightmet Community Hub is a small quarter acre site situated in the middle of a Council estate in Breightmet Bolton. The site is host to a community food growing project and a Men in Sheds project.

The Men in Sheds project is now in its second year, and like the food growing project has developed from the ground upwards and was actually built and put together by the men on the estate who attend the weekly sessions.

Since those early days we have had tool donations from retired carpenters, timber donations from local firms and small pots of funding throughout its brief history. In terms of how the project itself helps the men who attend it, this is plain to see, the lads now work on home based woodwork projects outside of the site, they have gained a high level of confidence and skills and on almost every weekly session the Men are always there before the start of the session, such is their keenness.

In my role on the site, I look after the food growing, and also support the Men in Sheds project when needed, I have watched men arrive on site with little in the way of confidence and esteem, and within a month they are telling jokes, interacting with the other men and applying themselves to their work, I dont exaggerate when I say I have seen real positive change in the Men who attend and make the site what it is today. Equally positive and encouraging has been the quality of the items that the men have made on site using a combination of hand and smaller power tools which are powered by our generator.

As someone who has worked in both mental health and FE/HE education environments for the best part of two decades it is very clear to me and plain for all to see thar both the physical and mental well being and learning of new and useful skills at work here that are instilled and nurtured in those attending these sessions.


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Sown in Bolton day 20 in pictures








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Sown in Bolton day 19

A busy graft of a day today has been, all in all we have moved over a ton of organic compost to different peoples gardens around the estate, and again have filled and delivered many pots to our growers houses.

Luckily again for us we had the weather on our side, well at least in the fact that it wasn’t pissing it down, despite it being very humid.

We had the pleasure again of hooking up with Caths kids on Padbury Ave, who were as keen as ever to fill their third raised bed with plants and seeds.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs Caths kids have nicknamed my gardener Bob and as I left their garden to move onto the next one they shouted ‘Bye gardener Bob, see you next week’



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Sown in Bolton day 18

As we edge our way slowly towards autumn we are still bang at it delivering plants, raised beds and potted herbs to different locations around the Breightmet estate.

Today was no different, as soon as we arrived at the New Lane UCAN centre we were loading up our cart with plants, soil, raised beds and other horticultural resources. Much of the morning was spent delivering stuff, clearing and filling raised and catching up with some of our growers, providing them with on the spot gardening advice and tips.

In the afternoon we worked with Catherine’s kids, which is always great, as they enjoy gardening and they eat the produce when its ready to crop. For the remaining two hours we began tidying the work area to the rear of the UCAN centre, had a brew and potted on some fruit bushes, all in all a good day and we were only rained on for around ten seconds.


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Sown in Bolton day 17

Today has been all about bulk carrying and moving things around. This morning we ferried well over a ton of soil to different addresses on the estate to fill up and top up our growers raised beds.

Its been a day of real hard work, and some good laughs along the way, particularly when we have worked with our growers kids bless ’em. Just before lunch time I took five minutes out to crop some produce from the UCAN centres Yarden, as mentioned previously all food grown in the Yarden is given away free of charge to people who have been benefit sanctioned or had their benefits reduced.

After a hearty and well deserved lunch myself and local lad Mark Walmsley continued filling our trolley with soil, raised beds and plug plants and continued dropping off and setting up the beds in a similar manner to the mornings work.

Despite being rained on a couple of times we continued our work and managed to get a fair bit done by the end of the day, and as is the case for the last few weeks I am now at home with my feet up, chilling out with a pint of home made ale, thanks for reading, and catch up with you again soon.


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