Croydon Master Gardeners and Food Buddies are helping people across the borough to start growing and enjoying eating their own food – either at home or in Croydon’s community gardens.
These enthusiastic volunteers are recruited, trained and managed by national charity Garden Organic. Croydon’s Master Gardeners and Food Buddies are funded through public health and are part of Croydon’s Food Flagship programme.
Master Gardeners are food-growing mentors who offer support and advice to new growers to give them confidence. Food Buddies are advocates for the healthy eating agenda, and promote easy food growing and great recipes in their local communities; through talks, attendance at events, and through raising awareness of the programme.
Anyone who lives in Croydon and wants to learn how to grow can be referred to a Master Gardener by their local community organisation, GP, club, charity or similar. Contact us here for a referral form.
Previously, a South London Master Gardener programme had operated across several London boroughs. The South London programmewas part of a three year pilot programme managed by Garden Organic. The pilot ended in August 2012, but we were awarded extra funding to Feb 2013, as a Local Food beacon project, and then further funding for a year. The programme closed on 28th Februrary 2014.
How does it work?
Garden Organic has the pleasure of recruiting community volunteers, Master Gardeners and Food Buddies who we train and actively support to promote the benefits of growing your own and eating well.
Master Gardeners offer local growing advice through community growing spaces, events, talks, stalls, articles, and other innovative ways that suit their skills and lifestyle. Master Gardeners also mentor 4 households each, offering 12 months free support to those just starting to grow their own food. It’s very exciting.
Food Buddies will receive training in basic horticultural techniques and community engagement so they can work with community groups/third/sector/residents to encourage referrals into the Master Gardener programme. They also take the message of food growing out to the wider community.
Food Buddies act as a “link” between the Master Gardeners and people who want to start growing, by working with their local community groups to raise awareness of the benefits of food growing.
What’s the point?
There’s huge interest in growing food. The public’s demand for allotments, advice, and support have increased massively thanks to high profile campaigns, food and health concerns, community growing networks, and a changing society intent on learning how to grow their own local, organic produce.
Master Gardeners have the important – and exciting role of supporting these interested people. To offer them reasons to grow food, remove barriers against, teach growing skills and offer support.
Master Gardeners believe that everyone can grow their own food, whether in a garden or allotment, on their balcony, a windowsill or on communal land. Whatever the crop, whatever the space, food growing is important for a healthy diet and lifestyle. It saves money, teaches skills, and brings people together.
Master Gardeners also work with a range of local growing groups and initiatives around the borough.
Master Gardeners are not imposed on the local growing scene, but come from it. They bring together people and organisations that recognise the importance of passing on growing skills and passion.
Visit our other programme websites