Our community garden has helped reduce social isolation

Mick and his family ventured up to Scotland in 1995, and he recalls that the drive up was amazing, saying: “the air seemed to change as we crossed the border and after a couple of visits, we decided that we might move up permanently and this is what we did in 1997 after selling our property back home in Sussex.”

It made me feel better about the community and want to get more people involved next time.

He recalls not feeling part of the community at first.  Although he spoke to his neighbours to say hello, he'd go to work, get home, close his door and that was it. Mick has two grandchildren and enjoys being a grandad and then his family began to grow again with the arrival of his third grandson, Oliver. But his life was soon to change unexpectedly when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in November 2015.

In April 2018, Mick’s daughter Bethany was offered a raised bed at the community garden and knowing that her dad missed having a garden, she quickly said yes.

It wasn’t long before he set about getting the soil sorted and sowed some seeds. He soon found himself part of a core group of four gardeners, his two neighbours and his daughter Beth.

Mick is now heavily involved in the community and has joined the Phoenix Tenancy Association, his local Regeneration Forum and works closely with Community Development Officers.  This involvement has helped with his health and mental wellbeing, he said:  “It provides me with exercise, gets me out in the fresh air and I get to eat fresh vegetables. I'm no longer in social isolation and have made acquaintances with people who are interested in what we do at the garden.”

Hopes and dreams

“My plan is to have a garden with a meandering path to allow wheelchair and buggy access and to join up the existing pathway to our garden and round each corner there will be plants with a different feel, colour or smell.”

The team are keen to see the garden added to the new Green Map for Dundee, and Mick would like the garden to part of the Green Prescribing trial recently started in Dundee.

Volunteers have installed a ‘wildlife camera’ to find out which creatures are visiting their space. They are hoping to be able to use these and other images from the camera to help introduce local young people to wildlife and nature. The garden is in an area of multiple deprivation, and Mick knows that there are children who live nearby who probably never get access to the countryside and he and the team are keen to get them along.

The Big Lunch

Mick first found out about The Big Lunch when he attended a Big Lunch task force meeting in Dundee and thought it would be a great idea for the garden. 

He organised his first one at the community garden in June this year with help from family and community development officers. Along with meeting local residents and making friends, he also made connections with some other community gardeners, who now share ideas and support each other. He said:

“I now talk to four out of five of the bungalow households that back onto the concrete area beside the garden, it made me feel better about the community and want to get more people involved next time.  This year the weather was a bit rainy, but I plan to make an even bigger event next year, especially as we now have a BBQ.”

Join community champions like Mick next year and bring a little joy to your community with The Big Lunch, 6-7 June 2020.