Edinburgh Garden Partners
Edinburgh Garden Partners (EGP) strive for sustainable, connected communities where everyone lives well and has space to grow. EGP has been developing and supporting mutually beneficial relationships around a shared interest in gardening since 2011. The organisation grew out of two pilot projects run by Care and Repair Edinburgh in disadvantaged areas of the city. Within a year of securing its first independent funding, it was supporting sixty partnerships between garden owners and volunteer gardeners across Edinburgh. Since then, EGP has supported between thirty and seventy garden partnerships at any given time – and some have been running continuously since their work began. Their model involves matching garden owners who are unable to make full use of their space, and volunteer gardeners who are looking for space to grow. Both, garden owners and volunteers often note a concern with isolation, or a desire to develop broader and more diverse connections across their communities – and encouraging the growth of meaningful relationships through garden partnerships, as well as among their volunteer base, is the key aim of their work.
They develop partnerships across generations, class backgrounds, between people who have called Edinburgh home their whole lives and those only recently arrived – including as refugees. The majority of their garden owners are older people, who tend to live in houses in the south side of the city. Their volunteers tend to be people living in tenements, or houses with more limited growing space, in the centre and north side of the city; and although half are younger people, aged under 35, their volunteer network spans a range of ages and stages of life.
Intergenerational Excellence Award 2022
In March 2022 their work was recognised by Generations Working Together and they received an award for Intergenerational Excellence in Tackling Climate Change. The following film features garden owner, Mamie and volunteer, Murray in their shared space, as well as Project Coordinator, Debs explaining what EGP means to them.
The news of the award soon hit the Edinburgh Reporter with the next film showcasing Violet and Debs.
- Volunteers tend to visit their shared garden space and meet with the older person at least once a week.
Benefits for the Community
- offer new ideas to the community and the sharing of skills around gardening as well as breaking down isolation and loneliness and building social capital.
- Some comments from participants “EGP has been a lifesaver for me” EGP Garden Owner and “I value the friendship and the feeling that we take care of each other. We are not just taking care of a garden but ourselves too” EGP Garden Volunteer.
Benefits for the Younger People
- The project offers younger people / volunteers the opportunity to get access to a garden / growing space
- meeting someone from a different generation / background whom they would normally not ever have met
- feeling more connected to their community
- learning new ideas and building news skills
- increased sense of belonging in their community
Benefits for the Older People
- The project offers older people a sense of worth and purpose by making opportunities to build relationships with younger people they would not normally meet
- benefit from being visited by someone once a week or more knowing that the person is coming round to work with them in their garden
- as such they have something to offer the volunteer as an equal partner and gives the older person a sense of being valued
- someone looking after their garden with them and is engaged and interested can feel rewarding and is a shared project between them
- Other benefits include; more fresh air being out doors, new friendships formed, eating freshly grown vegetables, meeting new people, increased sense of belong and improved overall mental health and wellbeing.
The project is funded by ongoing funding from the National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF), the City of Edinburgh Council via the EIJB, (funding is in place for another 3 years until 2025).
- The project is evaluated (ongoing) with stories (case studies), an annual survey for volunteers and garden owners.
- The outcomes for older people being that they feel more connected to the community, they have improved mental heath and well being, eat fresh vegetables, are more connected to nature and build a new relationship with someone from a different generation.
- The outcomes for younger people / volunteers are similar but also they learn about growing and this is ranked at the beginning of their volunteering. The philosophy is learning by doing. There are lots of tips that older gardeners can pass on to younger and vice versa.
- The outcomes of for the community include spreading the idea of sharing space, that it is good to share and that it can be done. EGP’s overall goal is that the people across Edinburgh are more connected to each other and their environment. Their Immediate objective is that in five years, they will have built a sustainable shared gardening movement that provides 50% more opportunities for people of different ages, abilities and backgrounds to connect.
What would be done differently in the future?
They are always learning and developing new ideas for future plans and more opportunities for gathering and skill sharing for garden owners and volunteers to get together.
EGP work in close partnership with organisations in the voluntary sector and government, who share their commitment to supporting the well-being of older people, promoting diversity, and expanding the profile of shared and community gardening in Edinburgh.
Scottish NPF Objectives
This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).
Scottish NPF Outcomes
This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF). It reduces social isolation, provides the reassurance and support of meeting with others to take part in joined activities around gardening which contribute to improving health and wellbeing, breaking down barriers and connecting people across different generations and background of older people and volunteers alike.
The project fits into the following national outcomes of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework (NPF)
Communities – we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.
Environment – We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment.
Health – We are healthy and active.