Our vision is to see thriving people and communitites in Bootle.
People are more connected than ever, yet more isolated. We increase well-being, create social connections and make Bootle a better place for everyone using the tool of community gardening. The focus on self-care our world can exclude the importance of communities. Our work brings local people together to work alongside each other and collectively support each other, thus increasing personal well-being and creating collective care communities.
We deliver a range of gardening and growing activities in various locations across Bootle but our home is North Park Community Garden. Our general sessions are open to everyone to get their hands dirty and learn how to grow. In every session we eat together, often cooking with what we grow, as this builds relationships and quickly builds personal connections. We share food, produce and recipes to promote healthy eating and everyone who attends our sessions takes home a share of the produce at harvest. We also grow in our public spaces in Bootle as we know that this brightens our town and promotes community pride.
Ali and Jan met in 2011 in church in Bootle. We shared a passion for people and a desire to see genuine communities based on equality and mutual support. Over many cups of tea we hatched a plan to set up a social enterprise where people could bring their own skills to the business, where a collective group could achieve more than isolated individuals. For Ali it was following in her Granny’s footsteps making jams and chutneys, for Janet it was making anything; cards, bags, soap, candles. We started to collaborate and began selling at local markets in all types of weather. However we hadn’t worked out how to make a difference locally in Bootle.
With a background in Horticulture, Janet began growing some of the vegetable we used in the chutneys, in her own and Ali’s back garden. Then 2015 saw the opportunity to develop the growing side of the chutneys and jams as we, in conjunction with a Bootle based charity, Ykids, were offered the use of a small patch of land in North Park. This we knew was the part of our vision that was missing: the opportunity to engage with the community on a regular basis, to develop friendships, to support volunteers as well as grow food.
The Community Garden began with 10 raised beds, but has since expanded into the adjoining 5 a-side football pitch. The amount and range of what we grow has also expanded beyond what is used in the jams and chutneys, to include food our community gardeners want to take home and cook.
From this The Gateway Collective has become involved with other organisations that promote the well being of the people of Bootle through growing. Ali is part of Taking Root in Bootle which connects the growing number of community gardens, so that collectively we can work to improve the local environment of Bootle.