Bath Mind’s Greenlinks project received a BWCE Community Fund grant in January 2020. Amanda Bolton, Greenlinks Manager, tells us about the great work they are doing and how they have used our funding.

Bath Mind’s Greenlinks is a community support group offering people with mental and physical health issues the opportunity to engage in gardening activities linked to wellbeing.   On the thriving allotment based at Monksdale Road in Bath, group members can get involved in all elements of planning, gardening and site maintenance or can simply connect with others, and nature, in one of the many tranquil seating areas.

Amanda Boston has been welcoming Bath Mind clients to the Monksdale plot since 2010. To support the growing group and their interests, this year Amanda was keen to offer group members the opportunity to grow more produce and learn new skills.  In January 2020, Greenlinks applied for funding so that the group could buy a new polytunnel to expand their growing space, develop the service and offer courses on site, whatever the weather.

After being awarded a grant from the BWCE Community Fund the group were delighted to move forward with plans to develop the project.  Fortunately, their efforts to achieve this goal were helped when they were unexpectedly given the chance to purchase an onsite greenhouse which was no longer being used.

The Community Fund grant was therefore utilised to purchase the greenhouse and some existing water butts.  Amanda and the group were delighted to gain growing space, to be able to recycle an existing resource and to increase rainwater collection on site.  The naturally warmed greenhouse will also make a welcome refuge for group members in the autumn and winter months.

Greenlinks is all about gardening in a sustainable and thoughtful way.  Group members use organic materials and peat-free compost and avoid the use of chemicals on site.   The pond they created encourages wildlife and this year they have been delighted to see a good number of tadpoles, frogs and dragon flies. The greenhouse is a wonderful addition to the site, alongside the solar powered shed and composting toilet.  The group have also been keen to donate surplus produce to the local weekly crop drop – reducing food waste and food miles.

With spring 2020 being a very challenging time for everyone, the additional greenhouse space made possible through the BWCE Community Fund has made all the difference to group members.  Greenlinks group members have really valued accessing the allotment individually in these difficult times.  They have appreciated being able to continue to visit, to share green space and stay connected (and in a routine) even when they could not meet as a group.  Greenlinks members have enjoyed being able to use their new greenhouse growing space to bring on seedlings, create a beautiful filing system for pots and shelter from the showers.

As lockdown restrictions have eased a little, the remainder of the Community Fund grant is now being used for soil and materials to create three additional raised beds.   Although Amanda had been making plans to run courses on site, these have had to be put on hold for the time being.  However, the new greenhouse and additional raised beds will make excellent learning environments in the future.

Keep an eye on the Bath Mind website for details of upcoming activities on site, for gardening activities to get involved with at home and for new exciting training and workshops in development! You can also follow on Instagram and Facebook.