When I lived in Australia, I shared a flat with the man who was running Transtion Bondi, a sustainable living community. Through that relationship, I was exposed to new ideas around gardening and sustainability. I also got the opportunity to visit many gardening projects.
Positive lifestyle, health and diet became a big part of my life and the effects on my own health and wellbeing quickly became apparent.
Through these experiences, I learned about the disconnection between people and their food and where it all comes from: the way supermarkets monopolise food markets, the objectification of land and people, and the ravaging effects our farming practices have on our environment. These experiences convinced me that the world is mad, a belief that I still hold today.
Once I returned to Scotland, I went back to University and studied Community Development (M.A). My dissertation focussed on the social impact of community gardens.
During that time, I started volunteering at Tollcross YMCA as I wanted to share my passion for growing food.
Soon after that, I managed to secure funding for a 10 hour/week post. I ran gardening sessions showing people the basic principles of growing food organically. The harvest of this food became the Harvest Meal, which led to the first Tollcross Community Dinner. These dinners are still held here every month.
Our garden is going strong, with weekly sessions every Wednesday morning. We work with the church and local schools to engage the community in food production. All the food grown is for communal use, either for our monthly community dinners, our adult cooking classes, or the YMCAs youth drop-in cooking demonstrations.
Our site is expanding every year. This year we’ve built an extra 4 beds and we’ve doubled our growing capacity.
The garden is also a way to integrate people into the other programmes we have on offer.
Community Dinners allow people to come together, share in the fruits of their work in the garden and to create bonds and friendships they wouldn’t be able to form otherwise.
My journey has shown me that growing food is about much more than just promoting positive health. It’s really about bringing people together.
I believe that through community gardens people can reconnect with nature, with each other and with a sense of autonomy.