Rhondda Fach Community Garden and Maerdy primary school, both located in Ferndale, have joined forces to support the growth of seasonal vegetables for older and vulnerable people within the local community.
The garden has 17 part-time volunteers, and welcomes children from local primary schools, Ferndale and Maerdy to help with the seeding, potting, and unearthing of crops throughout the spring and summer months. The vegetables are then taken to older people within the village who are less mobile and struggle to leave the house, as well as being offered to other residents, retailers and sold at the local food market. Proceeds from vegetable sales are returned to the garden to support its continued growth.
The community garden, which is part of the Arts Factory’s social enterprise called has also just received funding from the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund to improve its current facilities for growing seasonal produce.
Nigel Williams, Rhondda Fach Community Garden Coordinator, said: “Since launching the community garden just two years ago, it has gone from strength the strength. It feels like the whole community has come together to help us and in return we offer them the opportunity to buy cheap, seasonal, organic, and locally grown vegetables.
“The garden is not only a place where we can grow our own produce but it’s also a place we can socialise, relax, and enjoy being at one with nature. A lot of our volunteers enjoy coming to help because it assists them in removing any pressures, worries or anxieties from the outside world. Plus picking crops that you have planted and nurtured is extremely satisfying so it gives people a real sense of purpose.
“The funding we have just received from Pen y Cymoedd will help us to invest in sleepers to build raised beds for our disabled and older volunteers and more suitable gardening clothing. It will also help us to purchase the seeds we need to create a greater variety of fruit, vegetables, and herbs.”
Cara Thomas, a year three teacher at Maerdy Primary School said: “The school children really enjoy coming down to the garden throughout the summer term and learning about what to grow, when and how. The children also love seeing the results – It’s a really sense of achievement for them”.
Kate Breeze, Executive Director of Pen y Cymoedd said: “Community Gardens like this are an invaluable local resource. Not only are they a great place of refuge for people to take a break from the pressures of the outside world and take care of their mental health and well-being, but they are also fantastic for community spirit. It amazing to see how much it has grown and developed over the past two years and ambitions for growth in the future. Supporting hyper-local initiatives like this, is exactly what our community fund was established to do.”