A COMMUNITY garden on church land in Cardiff has received a £93,000 social-prescribing grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.
Twelve years ago, the garden was overgrown scrubland at the back of St Peter’s, Fairwater. A parishioner with a vision managed to generate enough community interest to raise the initial sum of £2000 needed to begin the project. Now, it is an award-winning green oasis, with two ponds, a mini-orchard for Welsh heritage apples, beehives, raised beds, a herb border, and a quiet garden dedicated in honour of St Francis and accessed from the building.
It is tended by an army of volunteers which includes children from the adjacent Fairwater Primary School, people with learning difficulties, young offenders, and former prisoners. The garden is expected to help to counter the debilitating effects of social isolation, especially on those whose mental and physical health has suffered during the pandemic.
The lottery grant will enable two part-time staff to be employed for three years. “It has come at just the right time, for when people can start coming out after lockdown — especially those who might have been a bit damaged by everything that has happened,” said the Vicar, the Revd Colin Sutton, who chairs the community hall and garden management team.
“They will have somewhere to come to, either to help or just to sit. We want it to be available to some of the most isolated and vulnerable people in our community, showing them that they really matter, and can contribute and have a sense of fulfilment. We have already seen people move from total isolation to full social involvement, and know there will be many more who will need to make this journey, post-pandemic.”
Mr Sutton is retiring in two weeks’ time, but said on Tuesday: “I’m leaving a strong management team to carry on with all this, and I’m hoping that the new parish priest — we are to have one — might be drawn to it.”