Grow Chichester is a Transition Chichester project. We maintain two community gardens, one in Bishop’s Palace Gardens and the other in Oaklands Park, and two community orchards, one behind the Festival Theatre and the other in the Whyke Estate.
Bishop’s Palace Garden
Starting in 2014, Grow Chichester took on the disused Bishop’s Palace Vegetable Plot to provide a space for the local community to come together and grow their own fruit and vegetables. Now, nearly a decade later, the community garden consists of raised beds, ornamental borders, a fruit cage, a polytunnel and a greenhouse.
Along with general gardening sessions that are run throughout the year, Grow Chichester provides therapeutic gardening sessions at the Bishop’s Palace Vegetable Plot for older adults and those with mental and physical health problems. Local organisations we work with include MIND, The Chichester Centre, The Apuldram Centre, Donald Wilson Neurological Rehabilitation Centre, Chichester Sanctuary and Chichester Social Prescribing team.
We work closely with the Arun and Chichester Food Partnership and frequently give advice to other groups wishing to set up their own community gardens. In 2023, Grow Chichester was successful at the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ Awards, winning a Gold Award for Community Participation and also for Environmental Responsibility, where we were Category Winner.
With research demonstrating the importance of outdoor spaces to our well-being, Grow Chichester aims to provide an inclusive, friendly and supportive space for the local community to learn to grow together.
• Encourage and enable residents of Chichester and the surrounding area to grow, harvest and eat their own nutritious fruit and vegetables
• Improve accessibility of nutritious produce to the local community
• Work inclusively to promote health and well-being and reduce social isolation through horticulture
• Provide local residents with land, education and support to grow fruit and vegetables
• Work in a sustainable way using organic methods and supporting local wildlife
The produce grown across the community gardens and orchards is shared between the garden volunteers, offered to the public by way of a donation and passed on to local food-sharing projects.
How does Grow Chichester make a difference:
Everyone who attends our sessions has their own personal ‘success story’ but here are a couple of examples.
Volunteer A, a young man moving from residential care to supported living, has attended gardening sessions regularly for some time. When he first came to us, he required one-to-one support for each task he undertook. Three years later, he is able to work independently and take the lead on many tasks.
Volunteer B, a refugee who had been granted asylum, became a regular garden volunteer at one of our weekly supported gardening sessions. In his own country, he had been a skilled gardener. Having seen his competent gardening skills, we were able to help find him a professional gardening role at a large local private residence.
‘I just enjoy it, the people are so friendly and easy-going, it’s uplifting. I find it particularly enjoyable being able to garden in an accessible environment and gardening as a group rather than having to tackle a garden as a whole alone.’
‘I have enjoyed not only the garden itself but also the social aspect, in particular the helpful and happy atmosphere that surrounds it.’
See our session times for more information or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org