A new horticultural scheme to help disadvantaged adults is being created at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s nursery in Royal Victoria Park.
Work started yesterday, 11th February, on the new social enterprise which will provide horticultural therapies and qualifications to help change the lives of people who have difficulty finding employment or have low-level mental health issues.
The Urban Garden will be run by the Bath-based community interest company (CIC) Grow Yourself from a site facilitated by Bath & North East Somerset Council at Marlborough Buildings near the park.
The space will provide the setting for a garden centre where the public can buy high-quality plants, most of which will be grown onsite by people who have particular needs, such as being socially isolated.
The Urban Garden will provide training in horticulture by offering City & Guilds qualifications and offer six-month work placements in the garden centre giving them the skills needed to move into employment or further education.
Profits from plant sales will be reinvested in the enterprise, allowing it to offer more training and work placements in the future.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “There has been a huge awakening of how gardening and the use of parks and green spaces can improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“This hugely innovative project will not only provide locally grown plants and edibles for residents to buy, but will support people in our community to grow their skills, improve their wellbeing and inspire them to move on.
“I’d like to congratulate Grow Yourself and The Parks Team for their excellent initiative in getting the project off the ground.”
Work to develop the retail garden centre, in the middle of Royal Victoria Park, has already begun and the Urban Garden will open for sales to the public at 11am on 28th March.
Matt Smail, Director of Grow Yourself, said: “I’m so happy to be working on this exciting new project. The Urban Garden is a ground breaking enterprise selling great plants to the public, the proceeds of which will support a training programme that really can help to change people’s lives for the better.
“So please do support us and come and visit soon.”
More information about the Urban Garden can be found at www.theurbangarden.org.uk.