Who we are
We are a charity committed to promoting and teaching the benefits for people and local communities of growing local, fresh and affordable produce in an organic and sustainable way.
What we do
- We enable people to reconnect with and enjoy the food they eat.
- We help develop an understanding of how food can be produced in an organic and sustainable way.
- We promote the benefits of community involvement, health and well-being.
- We promote wildlife habitat creation.
- We help young people and adults, especially those facing complex challenges and special needs, learn about growing produce for themselves
- We encourage the development of social enterprise opportunities such as craft activities to support birds and wildlife.
How we do it
- On our site we organise regular workshop/educational sessions to help schools, groups and volunteers gain practical experience in the sustainable production and harvesting of vegetables and herbs. We also help their understanding of historical and contemporary food and farming issues.
- We support a team of volunteers who are active in growing fresh produce.
- Through two open days a year we invite the local community to Communigrow so we can share our ethos and purpose.
Diverse communities across West Kent working collaboratively in responding to the needs of those facing disadvantage, using horticulture, an improved awareness of food production and the benefits of consuming fresh produce to provide opportunity, activities and inspiration.
Providing a broad variety of opportunities and activities using horticulture and social enterprise that educate, inspire and support young people and adults facing complex challenges across West Kent to improve their prospects for greater independence.
To reconnect people to places where their food comes from.
- Improve the life prospects of our beneficiaries by providing horticultural experience, learning opportunities and support.
- Initiate and develop a range of business relationships with referrers and other stakeholders in support of our aims.
- Ensure that we are sustainable and viable in terms of financial, physical and human resources.
- Expand our capacity and resources to accommodate the support needs of an increased number and diversity of service users
- Develop and expand volunteering at Communigrow to increase the range and variety of roles available, the diversity of volunteers and an increase in the number of volunteers.
- Develop the capability to monitor and evidence the value of the support we provide.
At the beginning, it was only an idea, later on it became Communigrow, a registered educational charity with the aim of ‘reconnecting people with where their food comes from and how to enjoy local, healthy, sustainable and affordable food’.
In 2011 Louise Rowe-Leete, a nurse who was part of Joining Hands, asked East Malling Trust if she could rent some land to grow vegetables for the community. They had volunteers to cultivate part of the current field but then Louise went for further nurse training. In 2013 the few people running the project
eventually found it too difficult to continue and it was about to fold when Laurence Snook, an environmentalist and visionary, offered to take the reins and continue with the project. He grew vegetables on his own for a year!
Through 2014 a small group of interested people came together and register Communigrow as a charity in December 2014. A chance meeting led to Five Acre Wood Special School participating in our activities and 5 years on they are still a regular part of our work. Following on from this, Grange Park Special School have also been attending regularly as did Aylesford Sports College and Rowhill Special School who had sessions organised for them.
Schools come to learn about growing; gain work experience; enjoy the benefits of being outside and improve their mental health and volunteer as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. We now have regular sessions for young people who are home-schooled.
2019/20 has seen an increase in interest and referrals from other organisations working with young people facing disadvantage in their lives.
Communigrow is grateful for all financial support and donations in kind received so far. This has enabled us to achieve so much and our plan is to expand our services and to reach to more diverse communities.
We are very grateful for the support of:
Thanks also to:
- Kent Youth Trust
- Malling Lions
- Maidstone Lions
- Hollick Family foundation
- INVOLVE Kent
- 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust
- Chapman Trust
- R G Hills Charitable Trust
- John Swire 1989 Charitable Trust
- Sir James Roll
Every year we organise practical field sessions for schools and communities to learn about responsible food farming using environmentally friendly methods. Our activities and outcomes have developed and today we work in partnership with local organisations promoting healthy lifestyles and providing communities opportunities to improve their well-being through access to nature and locally grown fresh food.
Recognition & Awards
- Five Star Award Gardening School – Royal Horticultural Society 2020
- Highly commended Kent Volunteering Awards 2019
- Finalist in the Community Impact Award with the Colyer-Fergusson Charity Trust Awards 2019.
- Gerald Turley Recognition Awards (2018) for delivering fantastic work and making a real impact in local communities.
- Rural Business Awards (2017), highly commended in the final.