Dunton Community Garden Group (DCGG), the charity that runs the community-based garden, aims to improve mental and emotional well-being and access to developmental opportunities through organic horticulture and community activities. The organisation’s objectives are:
•To provide education and skills development in organic horticulture in a supportive community garden
•To provide a community resource for the people in Dunton village and surrounding areas offering regular social events and an attractive and peaceful garden throughout the year
•To provide a wide range of volunteer opportunities including for people with physical or learning disabilities or mental health problems and people who are socially excluded
•To promote and support the work and ethos of the garden by marketing and selling the garden’s produce
Dunton Garden grows willow for coppicing and organic fruit and vegetables for sale from a fresh produce stall in the village and through other outlets. We also use the garden’s produce to make a wide range of jams, pickles and chutneys for sale.
We also have a number of areas where we grow ornamental plants rather than produce and we have distinct areas that offer: seasonal interest, secluded spaces, seats and tables or shady corners.
The DCGG was formed as a community group in 2001 and operated from the founder’s half-acre Dunton garden. The organisation became a charity in 2006 and continued to expand the number of volunteering sessions, partnerships and garden community events. As a result, the Group moved onto a larger 1 hectare fallow field in Dunton and developed purpose-built facilities and began developing the land.
Originally the garden was funded by generous grants and employed a team of staff but since 2014 the garden has been managed and delivered entirely by volunteers so the DCGG’s running costs are relatively low. Income for the garden has been generated through membership fees, donations, occasional grants and the sales of produce.
Dunton community garden is in the village of Dunton in rural Bedfordshire. The garden is in the grounds of a farm in the heart of the village and it is open and available to local residents every day throughout the year and we also provide a programme of activities that includes monthly Saturday morning coffee mornings, plant sales and seasonal celebrations.
Everybody is welcome to visit the garden or work with us as volunteers whatever their background, religion, gender identity, ethnicity, age or abilities/disabilities. We believe gardens are special and ours is here for anybody who wants or needs what it offers.
We regularly work in the garden alongside people with additional needs such as mental or physical health issues or learning disabilities, young offenders, long-term unemployed and people who are socially isolated for a range of reasons. Many of our volunteers were originally drawn to the garden at a challenging time in their lives and they have found a satisfying occupation in a lovely environment with both solitude or companionship available to them according to their needs.
All gardening at Dunton Garden follows the organic principles of avoiding artificial chemicals by building naturally healthy soils with compost, manure and through crop rotation.
We don’t use pesticides or herbicides because by attempting to destroy ‘unwanted’ plants or animals, we would also harm a wider range of organisms, plants and wildlife and we would remove or pollute sources of food for the animals that depend on them.
41% of Britain’s wildlife species have declined since 1970 largely due to intensive farming practices. We want to grow healthy food without adding to this destruction and we go further by planning our garden around creating a supportive environment for wildlife to feed and shelter.