A much-loved community gardening project that has helped hundreds of refugees, asylum seekers and local people in Manchester has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise some essential funding.
Strong Roots is run in conjunction with the Manchester Urban Diggers (MUD) collective at the Platt Fields market garden in Fallowfield.
The weekly sessions bring together people from all walks of life, some from the local area, some from much further afield as refugees or asylum seekers recently arrived in the UK.
For many who are staying in contingency hotels, or those people not yet allowed to work or connect with their new country, the programme has provided an essential lifeline since it started earlier this year.
As well as learning or developing gardening skills, the sessions provide a chance for those newly arrived here to meet new people, work, cook together and share recipes from their homelands.
Funding for the programme ended in August this year, and now organisers at MUD and the Strong Roots sessions are looking for funding to keep the project going.
Strong Roots is looking to raise £44,000 to keep the project going, as well as building a new outdoor shelter for the gardens which can be used by the community.
A host of supporters have provided rewards for the funding drive, including Michelin-listed restaurant Where The Light Gets In, artist and illustrators Caroline Dowsett and Lulu Heal, artist and ceramicist Liam Curtin and Longbois Bakery.
Among them are dinner for two at Where The Light Gets In, coffee for a year from GroundedMCR, exclusive art prints, one-off ceramic works, and a party thrown at the gardens for backers.
“In my role working with asylum seekers in the area, I come across many people who need to not just go out of the hotel but also a sense of purpose – somewhere to meet other people, somewhere safe for them and their families, where they can learn together,” said Jennifer Anderson from the Manchester Refugee Support Network.
“They report that after a day spent in the garden they sleep much better – reducing some of the visits to the doctor for depression and or anxiety. There is nothing else like this in Greater Manchester.”
Rewards range from £10 for supporting and a pin badge, up to £1500 for a week’s stay in a cottage in Yorkshire.