Social Farms & Gardens
We guide, inspire, advise, showcase and represent hundreds of groups and organisations right across the UK.
We love giving practical support like site visits, training courses and networking events. If our members want guidance on important areas like employment issues, or governance training, or site design, or if they simply want to know the best way to build a raised veg bed, we are there to help. Through our Community Land Advisory Service, we are also able to offer support and guidance on land and planning issues. Our CLAS resources are available here.
Then there’s the other useful stuff we do, like our online information resources or spreading the word about our members inspirational success, as well as providing e-newsletters and social media updates full of useful items.
We advocate on behalf of our members with regional, national and international bodies, ensuring their issues and needs are under the eyes – and on the minds – of decision makers. And working in partnership with other organisations means we can create positive action on crucial issues. Partnership working also allows us to help members bring further benefits to their local communities.
We also offer services to any other organisation running a community farm or garden (for example local authorities, schools, trusts, hospitals, housing associations and public buildings).
Improving People’s Lives
Many people assume that community gardens and city or care farms are just nice places to visit where plants are grown and animals kept. But that is far from the whole picture.
Many of them also offer an amazing array of benefits and opportunities, which can include education programmes, play schemes, healthy living initiatives, work and skills training, social enterprises, volunteer opportunities, environmental schemes, horticultural therapy groups, facilities for people with disabilities…the list goes on and on!
Our work helps:
- 200 city and school farms
- 1,000 community gardens
- All the UK’s care farms
- Hundreds of farms and gardens in development
Between them our members engage and empower thousands of volunteers and attract over three million visitors each year. Their estimated combined annual turnover is in excess of £40 million.
“It has been a great source of pleasure to me to watch this organisation become a real force for good in recent years, not least in the development of national policy. I hope and pray that this will continue for the next thirty years because there is no doubt in my mind that its work is only going to grow in importance.”
HRH The Prince Of Wales
One of the things our members (and would-be members!) find useful is our depth of knowledge and the useful information we provide. Sometimes it is hard to know where to begin to look for key information. That’s why we have gathered so much vital information in our Resources Section – including our famously comprehensive Community Growing Resource Packs.
Find out more: Resources | Social Farms & Gardens
What to know about animal therapy
Animal therapy or pet therapy refers to the use of animals as a way to help people cope with and recover from some physical and mental health conditions….
Find out more: Animal therapy: How it works, benefits, and more
Parks and Green Spaces
My Community brings you the latest tools, tips and ideas to help make your community a brilliant place to live.
Parks and Green Spaces have untold benefits for the community.
The resources in this hub have been designed to help people and groups who are interested in protecting, managing and improving their local parks and green spaces.
Parks and green spaces bring huge benefits to us as individuals and communities, improving both our physical and mental wellbeing. They bring cleaner air, a space to unwind or exercise, and a place for our community to come together and celebrate.
The resources in this hub will be particularly useful for anyone already involved or interested in becoming involved in their local park or green space – be it through setting up and running a project or volunteering.
The resources in this hub, including guides, templates, case studies and reports, will help you to:
- Understand the benefits of community involvement in local parks and green spaces
- Engage your local community, council and other stakeholders and get their support with issues related to your park or green space
- Understand covenants and trusts to protect green spaces
- Understand Community Asset Transfer for the land or the buildings in a green space
- Communicate events and activities taking place in your park or green space
- Generate income and bring in funding for your activities
Find out more: Parks and Green Spaces – MyCommunity
Parks Community UK & National Federation of Parks and Green Space
Parks Community UK aims to support Friends’ groups across the country to feel better equipped and more confident in their active involvement with their local green space. We identify and promote key elements and examples of community action and empowerment and how that can be encouraged, developed and supported. We are also creating a range of useful tools and practices to enable this to happen.
This website promotes and helps to embed community empowerment in the management of green spaces throughout the UK. It is a ‘one-stop shop’ of information compiled by and for Friends Groups activists and managed by the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces – the umbrella organisation for the UK movement of over 7,000 local Friends Groups.
Here you will find a range of useful and strategic documents, from a number of sources, of interest to green space Friends and user groups. We also recommend checking out the resources on our National Federation of Parks and Green Space website: National Federation of Parks.
Playing and learning outdoors is fundamental for all our children to achieve their full potential, boosting health, wellbeing and development, and is a universal right. We are working to embed outdoor play and learning into the fabric of Scottish life so that all of Scotland’s children can thrive.
Thrive’s downloadable series of hints and tips for playing outdoors
Scotland’s national position statement on playing and learning outdoors
Our Active Play programme to boosts physical activity in children
Download our Loose Parts Play toolkit
Sustainable Funding for Community Projects
Funders don’t fund for the fun of it. They have an agenda that’s often tied to national and even international strategies. Get to know how your project relates to those wider strategies and you’ll find success in your funding applications.
But where to start? Corinna Hartwig (aka The Funding Dr) is here to help with advice on how to identify the relationship between your project and wider strategies plus top tips on how to speak the funders language.
Watch the workshop recording to learn your outputs from your outcomes and what you and the funder have in common (spoiler: more than you might think).
Find out more: Action Funder
Walking for Health
Ramblers Walking for Health is England’s largest network of health walk schemes.
Every week we support thousands of people to experience the benefits of getting and staying active, improving their mental and physical wellbeing, and reducing social isolation.
Spending just 60 seconds recommending Walking for Health to your patients will encourage them to increase their levels of physical activity, ultimately saving lives and money, and reducing clinic numbers.
“Walking for Health offers a clear mechanism for primary care and other professionals to refer people to an appropriate led walks programme”
– Public Health England
If you’re a health professional keen to get your patients walking, there are a number of ways you can work together with your local Walking for Health scheme.
Whether you’re interested in signposting to an existing walk or setting one up at your practice, contact your local scheme and find out if they can support you. To find your local Walking for Health scheme, use our walk finder.
In 2017 we worked with health professionals to help us test a signposting protocol. You can find more information about the pilot here.
We have compiled an information pack for health and social care professionals, which includes all the essential information about Walking for Health, examples of how you can get involved, an overview of the benefits of walking for your patients and your practice, and case studies of walkers and practice walks.
Find out more: Walking for Health
Nature Clubs for families- toolkit
Families are discovering that having fun outdoors doesn’t require waiting for a special event or program. Instead, they are taking the initiative and creating their own local nature clubs for families. These clubs go by different names and take slightly different forms, but they all offer accessible, easy, low- (or no-) cost fun, family-oriented activities outdoors.
Find out more: Family Nature Club Toolkit
Find out more: Forest School Association
National Lottery funding for environmental projects
The National Lottery Community Fund has been a significant funder of environmental projects for 25 years. We believe that community action is a powerful way to address global environmental problems, while improving daily life.
Our new report, Community Action for the Environment: Small enough to care, big enough to make a difference, explores learning from our most recent funding, with a focus on practical tips to spark, mobilise and sustain local community action.
It’s intended for people who are setting up, commissioning or delivering environmental work. Those who are looking to make their existing work more sustainable will also find inspiration and practical suggestions here.
Find out more: Community action for the environment
- Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board
- Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership (Safer)
- NCVO (National Council of Voluntary Organisations)
Making your group work well
Community groups are most effective when it’s clear to everyone how things work and what they can do to contribute. You don’t need lots of complex policies and procedures, but it does help to put some things in writing so that everyone can see what’s been agreed. This section contains tips and advice to help your group run smoothly behind the scenes.
Find out more: Making your group work well
The Volunteering Team at Voluntary Norfolk has been asked about a number of issues relating to volunteer management during the Covid-19 crisis, including keeping volunteers safe, and guidance on carrying our specific roles such as befriending.
We have compiled a summary of Volunteering Resources, Guidance & Advice that we hope you find helpful, but please contact us on email@example.com if you need information about a topic that isn’t covered here or if you would like find out more about a particular issue.
Find out more: Volunteer Management | Voluntary Norfolk
Growing Care Farming
Check out the Growing Care Farming pages of the Social Farms & Gardens website for support, resources and training for care farmers and others providing green care services or those interested in finding out more about care farming/green care services.
SF&G Code of Practice for care farming services: The Code process is suitable for both established care farmers and for prospective care farmers ( and other green care providers) wanting to use it as a template prior to opening for business. It is a service only available to members of SF&G. The annual fee to access the code is £60 (inclusive of VAT). You can find out more here.
Some things to consider before starting a care farm: Find out more here.
Training: If you are thinking of setting up a care farm, have only recently started offering care farming services or have new members of staff that you’d like to bring up to speed, then we have a number of online and face to face training options – which are a great place for you to start your journey. For details of courses, dates, locations and on how to book please visit: Care farming and green care training opportunities | Social Farms & Gardens
Finally, if you need further information – e.g. facts and figures about care farming, governance etc. – then you can look through our resources here or contact the Growing Care Farming team directly using the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be able to help further.
Thrive (The Society for Horticultural Therapy) – STH and Green Care Free Courses
Insightful, free courses educating organisations and individuals on STH and green care. Notably the ‘What is Green Care?’ and ‘What is STH?’ courses, offering information on green care and STH definitions, evidence, values, principles, and practices.
Find out more: Learning – Thrive Learn