Time Bank Plus has played a big part in building a healthy, vibrant community in Bath and the surrounding area, connecting individuals and groups, and providing a network for people to help each other and feel valued in their local community. This network facilitates voluntary work which allows clients to build up time credits, that they can use to benefit from other people’s services, or donate to those who are in greater need. Time Bank Plus strongly believes that everybody’s time is valuable and everyone has something useful they can offer, it’s just a matter of imagination. Donated credits allow those who require more help than they are able to give to be a supported member of the network.
Growing Together is an initiative Time Bank Plus started at the beginning of this year to provide everything people need to be able to grow their own food at home. Free training gives individuals the knowledge and practice required to start growing, and the Tuesday meetup group at Bath City Farm allotments allows those without their own gardens to get involved. People can also get in-home advice to assess how their space can best be used for growing, and a buddy scheme facilitates people sharing allotments or just keeping each other company while getting their hands dirty. Thanks to BWCE Fund’s grant, Time Bank Plus can afford to fund a development worker to train and support people, so that their knowledge can be passed on and benefit everyone involved in the Growing Together scheme.
The BWCE Fund was set up by Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE), as a separate charity, to deliver funding to a range of low carbon and fuel poverty initiatives. BWCE are a community benefit society that own and develop renewable energy projects. Surplus profit is distributed via the BWCE Fund with preference given to applications close to sites where BWCE have generating projects operating. BWCE Fund trustee Peter Andrews says ‘this grant was important to us because it reinforces the fact that ‘low carbon’ is about more than just solar energy. Growing food close to where it to be consumed is a major factor in reducing our emissions with the added benefit of providing local people with new skills and access to cheap healthy food’.
Groups that development worker Rowan Wynne-Jones has worked with include the Home Education group which has connected families – parents with children – that work together on a shared allotment to produce their own food, while educating themselves about growing.
Rowan also worked with young people at the local Youth Hub, who were initially very reluctant to get their hands dirty, but gradually broke down the barriers and got stuck in. They have built raised beds and created a vertical strawberry patch, taking ownership of, and rejuvenating unused spaces in their community. They will soon be celebrating their hard work when they harvest tomatoes and sweetcorn for a pizza-making party.”
Rowan has also been leading growing activities with individuals, including a lady with a young family who has improved self esteem through producing delicious homemade chutneys and jams from produce grown in her garden and on the local allotment. Other beneficiaries of the project include a mother with two young children. She wanted her kids to understand where food comes from so decided to transform her unproductive garden into a raised bed allotment, and has just had her first harvest of potatoes.
After half a year of hard work diligently preparing growing spaces and sowing seeds, suddenly all the plants have shot up, and everybody involved in Growing Together is now reaping the rewards of harvest season.
“It is very satisfying to see people empowered to grow their own, inspired to come together, and fostering greater connections to food. It has been a slow process of small steps but we are now being rewarded for all our hard work” Rowan Wynne-Jones , Development Worker