A Church Garden

Pierremont Methodist Church in Darlington, County Durham is making a difference to local people through its community garden.

Now with the help of grants from Allchurches Trust and the Methodist Insurance Fund, planning is underway to create a kitchen and café which will do even more to help tackle food poverty and isolation in the area.

The Giving Garden was piloted in March 2016 in an effort to transform an unused outside space owned by the church. It now hosts two gardening sessions per week and supplies the local residents with free fruit and vegetables from a stand outside the church. Local people who previously had no engagement with the church are now regularly involved in the upkeep of the garden.

The garden has also led to the development of the ‘Pantry’, where people can place and take non-perishable foods and enjoy a free weekly community lunch.

However, the small church isn’t stopping there; it sees the garden as only the first stage of a larger plan to increase community engagement in the area.

Over the next two phases of the project, Pierremont plans to develop its small, dilapidated 1970s kitchen into a training kitchen which will be able to host cooking classes for the community. Plans are also underway to create an onsite community café which will operate using a "Pay as you feel" model. With the help of local supermarkets and other organisations, the café will actively challenge food waste as well as cooking produce grown from the garden.

Both ventures will offer work experience and training to local college students where they can learn life and employability skills. To top it off, Pierremont Methodist Church is installing an accessible toilet block with a view to also installing lift, ensuring everyone can access their new facilities.