Bolton Urban Growers: Who are we and what do we do?

I have been writing Blogs about Bolton Urban Growers for quite a few years now and thought it time to introduce you to the people behind it and what our aims and objectives are. In terms of our structure we are a Constituted Community group who are broadly incorporating permaculture into low income urban areas via food growing whilst in the long term looking at generating self reliant communities based on small scale interconnected urban horticulture sites.

How we work

We have a none hierarchical structure our work is led by whoever is the most skilled in a particular area or discipline and since our skills are very diverse and interconnected this works well for us, we all learn from each other, and it is democratic without the bureaucratic drudgery of more formalized group structures enabling ideas to flow and for us to be able to work closer and more effectively with each other and those we work with in the community.

What do we do?

We have the skill set and expertise between us to deliver workshops and projects that fall within the realms of urban ecology, social justice and community upskilling via accredited or traditional and useful skill workshops.

We have worked with groups and individuals from the most socially and economically excluded backgrounds, including running and delivering an urban permaculture project called ‘Sow and Grow’ for national criminal justice charity NACRO where we worked with long term offenders with substance misuse issues, we have also worked with local schools, interfaith councils, refugees and asylum seekers.

In 2014 We also delivered a gardening and well being course to local mental health charity Bolton Steps  and during the last couple of years with local social Housing provider and charity Bolton at home, this forward thinking charity are actively engaged in addressing food poverty in Bolton through a variety of mechanisms including working with groups like ourselves and supporting local food growing initiatives and foodbanks. Our work with Bolton at Home is concentrated on the gradual development of community food growing Hubs and local street growing initiatives

Meet the Team

Jean urmston – Jean is co-founder of Bolton Urban Growers, she ran our first outreach project working with families in Great Lever by helping them to grow food in their gardens and yards. Within the project Jean will soon be delivering some one pot and outdoor cooking sessions to growers on two sites that we are involved in running, she also recently delivered a seed bomb workshop to school children is running an activities based series of summer sessions for the children. Jean holds a PDC which she acquired after completing the ten day residential Permaculture Design Court at Ragmans Lane Farm under the late great Patrick Whitefield. Jean is coordinating  and working with a team helping a man with a serious acquired brain condition with his rehabilitation. She is also a keen gardener and grows a diverse selection of annaul and perennial flowers and herbs in her back garden.

Landrover Dave – Dave is our skilled craftsman, his Dad begin teaching him carpentry and upholstery from  eight years old. and he has the ability to look at something, ask a few simple questions, go home draw a detailed scale sketch and built it to completion. One of the great things about Dave’s work that really resonates with our ethos is his ability to build things that are made to last. He is currently working on making some sturdy benches for the Willow Hey project, and is also making a memorial bench for a young couple who we worked with earlier in the year. Dave will also hopefully be delivering some ‘Men in Sheds’ sessions later in the year and sharing some of his great skills.

Wynn Hutch – Wynn did much of the pruning and cutting back when first moved onto the Willow Hey site, he is in charge of all of work that involves being off the ground and will no doubt be in the air again when we finish off our pruning at the end of this year. Wynn has also recently completed a project at home where he and his partner have converted a run down back yard into a thriving Yarden with beans climbing up the walls and flowers and vegetables growing in large pots. Wynn is also our chief fire starter, during the harsh cold winter he was regularly able to get a full blown fire going in around three minutes which we are eternally grateful for.

Steve Jones – Along with Jean Urmston Steve is also co-founder of Bolton Urban Growers and studied permaculture at Ruskin College in Oxford in 1996 under Andy Langford and completed his PDC with Patrick Whitefield at Ragmans Lane Farm in the Forest of Dean in 2011. He has grown some of his own food on a fairly regular basis within an urban setting since 1992. Steve is currently involved in working on and delivering six food growing projects in two areas of Bolton, he is a passionate believer in the idea of The Commons and in creating resilient urban community food growing Hubs as a means of addressing the multiple interconnected issues of long lasting and meaningful  local  employment, climate change, and food sovereignty. Steve is also a member of Permanent Culture Now with Michael Thomas, they run a solutions based website and deliver workshops and talks on permaculture and issues of social and ecological justice.

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