The Dig 4 Jaywick Community Garden Group was formed in November 2011 by members of the Jaywick Community and utilising land at the rear of the Jaywick Enterprise Centre.
The Group has established a constitution and now leases the land from the Council on an annual basis. The Group also enjoys membership of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.
Situated in the Brooklands area of Jaywick (listed in the Indices of Multiple Deprivation as the 1st most deprived area in England) the overall aim of the project is to:
- Promote the benefits of community gardening by working with the community, appropriate statutory agencies, voluntary organisations and the general public to provide facilities for recreation and education.
- Help educate the public in horticulture, garden crafts and the protection and improvement of the natural environmental practises (such as encouraging reduction, re-use and recycling, and related subjects).
- To cultivate and protect the environment of the garden raising awareness of the environment and encouraging consideration for and the appreciation of plants, wildlife, gardens and open spaces.
- Provide education and training for a variety of people, including those with learning difficulties, helping to prepare them for work, if appropriate, and raising their self-esteem.
- Provide therapeutic activities, including conversation and gardening, for people with physical or learning difficulties or mental health problems.
- Provide a resource for local schools and colleges where students can learn about gardening, conservation and the natural environment.
The group is aware of the need to encourage the involvement of local volunteers in order to sustain the project. This has been achieved by promoting this multi–use space through various methods such as:
- Annual Open Day events
- Face to Face interaction with potential volunteers
Partner organisations have also become involved, by carrying out practical activities alongside the community volunteers. This involvement not only helps to develop this growing space but also gives volunteers the opportunity of interacting with other people, thereby developing their knowledge and social interaction skills. Partners include:
- The Princes Trust
- Tendring Enterprise Studio School (TESS)
- Essex Youth Offending Team
- Essex Probation Service Community Garden
- The Woodland Trust
- Jaywick Martello Tower
- British Red Cross
- Essex Fire Services
- The University of Essex, School of Biological Sciences
- Essex County Council
- Tendring Waste Busters
The Dig 4 Jaywick Community Garden Group have over the course of four years made impressive progress in the development of the community garden, seeing this as a space where local people can learn about the art of gardening and garden related activities such as Art in the Garden. The garden also serves as a way in which people can communicate effectively with each other and this is especially relevant for those who are living in isolation or experiencing challenging times in their lives.
Volunteers have become committed to the project and have noticeably gained a sense of ownership of the work involved there. They enjoy the interaction they have with partner organisations and are notably encouraged by the fact that their project is viewed as a very positive activity within Jaywick and have gained valuable, personal pride in their achievements.
The group are well organised and, having made a successful funding application to the Peoples Health Trust, Active Communities Fund, have recently engaged the services of a part-time Project Assistant. This has enabled the group to focus, not only on the practical aspect of gardening, but also to enlarge on the process of engaging with potential volunteers and partner organisations. The group have recently devised a Newsletter and are currently in the process of constructing a D4J website.
Volunteers are committed to the project and look forward to seeing it further develop.