The Community Garden Initiative - a chat with Tim!

Posted on 19 Apr 2020

Based in Herefordshire, we are extremely fortunate to have the beautiful countryside and a close-knit local community on our doorstep, and it has always been important for us to find ways to support them. That’s why we donate a percentage of our profits to the Haygrove Community Gardens initiative.

Teaming up with social care providers and integrating with other local businesses, Haygrove Community Gardens offer a sociable yet peaceful place for members of our community to go for therapeutic healing, and for school children and other community groups to visit and learn new skills.

Haygrove have established and supported the development of two community gardens in the Herefordshire area, Ross-on-Wye and Eaton Barn. We sat down for a chat with Tim Shelley, project leader at Ross-on-Wye Community Garden, to find out a little more about the amazing work he and his dedicated team do there.

When and how did Haygrove establish the Community Gardens initiative in Ross-on-Wye?

The initial idea for this project came from one of the Directors of Haygrove after seeing a similar concept connected to the Eden Project. In early 2013, a plot of land in the centre of Ross-on-Wye became available for lease and within a couple of months, we started to get to work!

What was the intention or objective when establishing the garden in Ross-on-Wye?

We really wanted to come alongside people in our local community who needed some encouragement and support. We thought we could do this through this green space and through nature, growing and connecting with one another - it soon became popular in the town and a tremendous help to those struggling. We particularly aimed our first few years at supporting adults who were long term unemployed, or who had a learning disability or a mental health illness.

How does the Community Garden benefit the local community, and who are you and your team supporting through this initiative?

We offer therapeutic gardening sessions to a wide range of people, around 50 each year. We also have around 600 primary school children who visit the garden each year. Recently, we have set up a food hub with the aim to tackle local food insecurity and reduce food waste. As part of this, we have a marketplace set up 6 mornings a week that encourages and supports people in cooking and growing, and our Zero Waste Stall hands out surplus food from supermarkets, and has redistributed 4 tonnes of food in just over 4 months.

What are some of the things people can do when they come through the gates?

Anyone can pop into the garden during the mornings and have a look around. You can also get some advice and help, or pick up some items from the Zero Waste Stall. While that is going on, there are also gardening sessions taking place.

How many regular visitors do you have to the garden?

Currently many of our service users are still shielding due to coronavirus, but in normal times each day we would have around 12 people attending. Through our new stalls, we often get around 30 people also visiting.

How can other members of the community support the work you and your team do?

Our local community is fantastic. We currently have 15 Volunteer Support Workers and nearly 40 volunteers who give a few hours each week on the stalls. But we are always looking for more volunteers!

Do Haygrove have any plans for additional community gardens in the future?

In the last couple of years we have started a project in Newent and we are currently exploring other areas where we can support people in our local community through horticulture; we are also planning the development of a Haygrove Community Garden in Ledbury.

For more information on the gardens, watch this video. If you have some time to spare and would like to join the team of volunteers at one of Haygrove’s Community Gardens, please get in touch via, and follow @haygrove_community_gardens.