A community garden centre in Swinton is aiming to become a community resource to support people’s health and well-being.

Ian Bocock, who runs Cleavley Community Forest Garden, said he wants people to be able to access the site to support their mental health and well being.

He says a visit to the site might be prescribed instead of medication by GPs.

“So if somebody is presented at their GP, and isn’t feeling quite right and has a little bit of anxiety, maybe they can come and join a group here and be involved in an outdoor activity instead of being put on some sort of medication when really what they want or need maybe is just to develop a network of supporting people who can help them get through that.”

Already in 2021, the community garden has seen the installation of a poly-tunnel, which helps crop growth in the winter, the ‘Ivy Den’ café and the start of their community edible garden.

Image Credit: Tom Parker

However Bocock, the Director and Horticulture Educational Lead at IncrEdible Education, has an even bigger plan that could help the Garden in the future – solar power.

Bocock said: “One of our investment ideas and developments is we’d like to get a power supply here, an electrical power supply, but we’d really love to be able to generate that through solar power.

“So instead of us taking from the grid, it’s actually being able to give back to the grid. Now, there’s a lot of trees around here, but we do get a lot of sunlight.

“So maybe potentially solar would be a good way of doing that, whether or not we could generate through wind power, because we’ve got quite a little micro climate going on here because we’re completely surrounded.”

At the moment, the food grown at the community garden is taken home by the volunteers – however there is hope that this could grow even wider.

“This space really has its limitations if we were ever going to go to trying to grow food,” Bocock started, “but we would love to develop that as a wider concept from here.

“So this is like where you will come and look at how do we start that, but then how do we scale that up into having some fields where we can actually grow produce – which will then make an impact on sort of food and food being travelling lots of miles as opposed to being very local.”

Bocock’s main hope, though, was that the garden would belong to the local people: “What we always wanted to achieve by opening up this site was that it became a community asset, although we manage it – it belongs to the local community.”

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