The learning report, produced by Groundwork and the Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens, looks at the progress communities have made as part of the Big Lottery funded Communities Living Sustainably (CLS) programme. The five year programme has provided up to £1 million to twelve communities to test ways of dealing with the potential impacts of climate change.
The learning report observes that: ‘practical involvement in growing and green space activities can provide a powerful tool to help vulnerable people address personal and social issues’ and while opportunities are afforded by devolved public health budgets to build community growing and green space projects into local service delivery, ‘future funding for these activities is likely to require a much stronger evidence base in terms of directly attributable health or employment outcomes and subsequent public sector budgets.’
A significant number of CLS growing and green space projects are also proving effective at attracting volunteers and developing local community leaders but support is crucial to the successful engagement and retention of volunteers. The report notes that ‘in the majority of examples expenses are provided and volunteers are intensively supported throughout the process with funded rewards, including accredited training on offer in return for their time.’
The experience of CLS groups suggests that local projects can also stimulate local food economies, although it also highlights a number of barriers and a need to coordinate a strategic approach to local food to overcome challenges faced in building production at scale, increasing distribution networks and retail outlets to turn social projects into more mainstream business models.
Download the report
Click here to read learning report
Click here to read learning report summary
The Learning Partnership consists of Groundwork UK, The Energy Saving Trust, The Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens, The New Economics Foundation and Building Research Establishment (BRE). The partnership was brought together to encourage and support communities participating in CLS to capture and share any learning from their projects.