Roots in the City

Roots in the City

Photo above: Harvest for Food Bank

Annie Merry of Faiths4Change introduces its Roots in the City Partnership Project.

Faiths4Change, an independent charity established in 2010, aims to contribute to the development of a society that is truly and deeply sustainable for all: socially, healthfully, economically, spiritually, and environmentally, just. Our work is rooted in partnership and collaboration, delivered mainly with communities across Merseyside and focused on environmental and nature awareness, education and connection, conservation, and practical action on climate change. We seek and develop opportunities to work with others to grow relationships, share interests, knowledge, and ideas, and develop practical projects and responses that positively transform our awareness of and interactions with our neighbourhood environments and the Earth.

With others we’ve developed over 150 practical projects over the last 10 years: some intentionally short, and others which have started small and continued to grow and develop. One such project is ‘Roots in the City’, a partnership project with St Michael’s in the City, an inner city Liverpool church with a small congregation, which began when we were asked to make a weekly community lunch for people attending a community market run by another charity, Micah Liverpool, in May 2018.

Making a weekly vegan lunch with donated fresh veg offered us an interesting and varied challenge – initially people attending weren’t big on veg! Over time, relationships, and a love of veg grew and people attending began to stay on into the afternoon. Together we created an afternoon programme – everyone chipped in ideas, skills and even green tomatoes for chutney making (82 jars)! We began to meet with the church congregation in late 2018 and the idea for a community garden began to take shape. The church offered us land – its original community garden which had remained untouched for almost 20 years.

Working and preparing the site

The congregation invited people from the neighbouring church of St Vincent’s to the first garden design workshop with local residents and others from the lunch and afternoon sessions adding to the design during a second workshop. There was so much support from so many people and groups – from builders in the local area to other charities, housing providers and many more. In July 2019, a garden party was held to celebrate the beautiful developing garden.

Myerscough College began providing City & Guilds Horticulture sessions in the garden each week; funds were raised to provide a weekly open garden drop in and in the winter Mersey Forest donated lots of native hedge plants, such as Holly, Dog Rose & Hawthorn. More than 30 people planted them – it’s flourishing.

Until the pandemic, we had lots of regular gardeners:

Kath – planted herbs including Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Chamomile, Mint & Marjoram amongst the sand stones that were revealed as the brambles were cut away. She nurtured the herb garden which is now providing an abundance that’s being shared through the Foodbank, providing fresh flavours to add to dried and tinned foods.

Gary – during the pandemic Gary has grown hundreds of plants from seed and dropped them off each week … this week it was strawberry plants and Foxgloves. He has described coming to the garden as, “My organic therapy – better than any tablets from the doctor”.

These seedlings are amongst many hundreds that Rosie, Caps, Emma & Donna have planted out and nurtured. Donations have been picked up from others, including lots of carrot seedlings from Grow Speke. Since the beginning of April, we’ve been harvesting the fresh veg and herbs and donating it to folk attending the Foodbank at St Brides (St Michael’s sister church). So far, we’ve grown and donated over 50Kg of fresh organic local food on Thursday mornings, to be picked up on Thursday afternoons!

In June we created home gardening kits for self-isolating, refugee and asylum- seeker families across Liverpool & Knowsley. These included plants grown in the garden, peat free compost, tools and a ‘how to guide’. We’re in contact with many of these gardeners and our regular gardeners and will be providing top-ups for those staying at home very soon.

We’re preparing to welcome regular and new gardeners back to Roots in the City in early September.


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