(The original project name of Tiny Trowels has been changed following registration of that name as a trademark by a third party)
In 2013 two parents, Claire Berry and Claire Crowsley, discussed with Jules the need for a family gardening group at the City Farm. We consulted with local families about the lack of green space to play in – families who had small or no garden space at all. We discussed the needs for outside space for children to play and learn together, support for families to help them gain confidence in gardening and opportunities for families to get to know each other and build up relationships and communities.
As the concept for a project emerged, Sarah Venn, a Community Horticulturist Consultant, was brought into the discussions and was asked to facilitate a gardening group for families.Claire Berry and her daughter Lola came up with the original name of the project and we instantly knew this was going to be the start of something unique and special.
When we had our first TT session at the City Farm, we expected maybe three or four families. We ended up having over twenty families on our first day. Within ten months we had engaged with a hundred families and we discovered that there is a great need for family gardening experiences.
Our feedback from families told us they wanted to be outside with their family, learn about gardening in an informal setting and get involved with their communities. TT has enabled many adults and children to grow in confidence, develop their skills and stimulate their interest in gardening. Many of our families initially thought gardening was hard, scary or overwhelming. We have learnt that it’s the taking part that is so vital, that ‘success’ is not measured by what you produce, but by how the activity makes you feel physically and mentally. We felt it was important to develop a family gardening project that created a safe space to:
“TT is a fantastic example of how a community-focused organisation like the City Farm can support people to grow their own projects. The idea clearly meets a need, the staff and volunteers have worked together brilliantly to nurture the idea and it is great to see the project flourish.”
Steve Sayers CEO Windmill Hill City Farm
We worked on various parts of the City Farm but began to feel it worked best for the group if we gardened in just one space – we could see our produce start growing and families could visit during the week to see and share with other people the work they had been doing. Sarah discussed with Steve, the City Farm’s CEO, the need for a dedicated space and we identified an allotment with raised beds at an ideal height and spacing for the group. The TT allotment began to grow. We were surprised how many families, feeling the need to be in the fresh air, were still coming in the cold and rainy weather. In our TT allotment we planted spring salads, various flowers including edible ones and lots of herbs, including lemon balm, chives and chocolate mint. Within the TT project, we made sure our group work volunteers and facilitators followed best practice in working within community projects. Jules delivered and organised regular planning meetings, training and evaluation sessions.
As TT is a family project, we decided to support the Parents 4 Play Campaign, encouraging us to keep up to date with events, other family projects and best practice in play and group work.
Part of the Active Citizens programme, the TT project grew from an initial idea that was inspired by a group of families. Jules worked with a facilitator, Sarah Venn, and the parents to find ways to help its on its way to becoming an independent community enterprise. We were awarded a great opportunity by Voscur, winning a place on a training programme called ‘Kick Start’ for up-and-coming grassroot projects. Use this link to find out more about Voscur and the support they offer the community sector in Bristol.
TT is now an independent community project led by Sarah Venn and the parent members. It has always felt like a very magical project that has grown from a community need. We want to say a big thank you to all the families we have worked with for all their support, kindness and inspiration in developing TT. And thanks to TT parent Helen Ward for voluntarily designing our fantastic TT logo and banners.