Bridgend Growing Communities (BGC) started life in 2006 as the Bridgend Allotments Community Health Inclusion Project (BACHIP), a partnership between City Of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian. Based at the council’s newly opened allotment site at the old Bridgend Farm near Cameron Toll, BACHIP was a pioneering community health and gardening project using four of the site’s fifty six plots.
Funding was secured in 2007 from the Big Lottery to run regular programmes of allotment-based activities, devise practical training courses in food growing, and support the development of other garden projects in the south-east Edinburgh area. The positive contribution made by community gardening towards health improvement and social inclusion is now well understood, and BACHIP was one of the first projects in Edinburgh to demonstrate this.
In 2011, the project became a volunteer led Charitable Company – Bridgend Growing Communities and has since built upon these foundations. The Bridgend site has seen significant development, and the project’s outreach and training programmes have been expanded with further support from the Big Lottery and other funding sources.
Central to the philosophy of the project from its very beginnings has been the idea of inclusion, and volunteers continue to be recruited from many sources. Partner agencies within the city council and the voluntary sector continue to refer individuals and groups to activities and workshops. The project is also open to anyone who wants to get involved, and share in the experience of growing, cooking and eating healthy food in the great outdoors.