Before joining Horticulture Wales as our Communications Officer Emma Cornes worked for the National Trust at Erddig on the Green Academies Project as Community Ranger and went on to start Erddig Grow with colleagues. Recently she went back to find out how the project is progressing and the difference working with Horticulture Wales has made.
What is Erddig Grow?
Erddig Grow is a wellbeing initiative helping nature to nurture local communities in Wrexham. The project is based at Felin Puleston on the edge of the Erddig estate where there’s a long history of community working. Felin Puleston is a hub where community groups have planted an orchard, clubs get together and people groups contribute to the development and maintenance of the garden and wider estate.
‘The Green Academies Project enables young people to look after the green spaces where they live. We empower young people to understand the challenges faced by the environment, recognise the important role nature plays in our lives, and be part of the future of nature conservation’.
GAP has been funded since 2016, but is due to end in February 2020. Emma and Mieke, the project’s Local Partnerships Coordinator, didn’t want to see the work being done with local communities come to an end. So at the end of 2018 they started to research ways to make their work self-funding to guarantee its future. This is how Erddig Grow was born. They decided to trial growing and selling cut flowers and nature inspired crafts.
‘We’ve started growing cut flowers and making crafts which we then sell at Erddig Hall. All the proceeds go back into funding more community and wellbeing work. We’re aiming to make out work self-funding to ensure we can keep growing our community and nurture its wellbeing in the long-term.’
Erddig Grow and Horticulture Wales
Emma and Mieke found Horticulture Wales at a really important time. They knew their Lottery funding was coming to an end and had lots of ideas for how to make their community and wellbeing work self-sustaining. But they were unsure about which ideas to pursue, and if there were any opportunities they were overlooking for Felin Puleston and their team of volunteers.
‘We knew we needed to come up with a new model for the work we do at Felin. Horticulture Wales’ help was invaluable as they already have a good understanding of other horticultural social-enterprises and how they operate.‘
The original idea for Erddig Grow had been to grow fruit and vegetables, but Mieke and Emma weren’t sure about yields and feasibility with the space and people they have. But after speaking with Horticulture Wales they decided to research a number of other options, including cut flowers and craft items, which they finally chose as their model. They also discussed other ways to grow, including more partnership working and options for involving other projects in the area.
What difference did we make?
‘It’s hard to quantify exactly how much of an impact Horticulture Wales has had, but the meetings we had really helped to guide our thinking and opened our eyes to lots of opportunities. They’re full of ideas and know everyone! That’s really helpful and saved us a lot of work and research’.
The future of Erddig Grow
Having had a successful first growing and selling season Erddig Grow moves into 2020 looking positive. The team have recruited a new Community Ranger, successfully trialled sales of natural Christmas crafts and are still aiming to find funding to see them through to the point where the project funds itself.