During their recent visit to Wales to participate in the Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC), European officials took time to visit The Down to Earth Project in Gower, Swansea.
Wales Rural Network and other officials representing the wider RDP hosted a visit to the project with Ana Gonclaves and Egle Pouissante.
During the visit the group learned about the project’s work in Swansea and beyond, including their use of traditional and sustainable building methods.
This remarkable approach transforms both the participants and the community involved in the project – whilst simultaneously creating stunning, sustainable buildings. From large scale commercial training spaces to smaller outdoor classrooms, Down to Earth has an excellent track record in accessible, accredited training programmes resulting in remarkable buildings.
The group also looked around the gardens and poly tunnel where health and wellbeing are improved for participants who may be tackling depression and anxiety or are part of minority groups such as asylum seekers – or simply members of the local community by being outdoors. There are some beds for growing vegetables, some perennial plants and young fruit trees providing food for free and homes for nature. Yearly food is grown organically.
The site at The Gower really includes sustainability at its core – even the ‘gravel’ is innovative using shells – a waste product from Selwyn’s Seafoods in Swansea!
Down to Earth has a plethora of projects some of which have received funding from the Rural Development Programme - funded through Welsh Government and the European Commission - via LEADER and Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being (ENRaW). At the heart of their work is Health and Wellbeing and Sustainable Construction.
With the help of LEADER funding Down to Earth has the ‘Growing Community through Forest Gardening’ – this project seeks to grow a strong community with local people from Bishopston & wider Gower and the asylum seeker and refugee community from across the county through helping create a Forest Garden.
The project supports the importance of being inclusive and wants to support access to the countryside for more disadvantaged groups as well as developing the links with neighbours to our site. The outcomes from this project include increasing community cohesion, health and wellbeing, sharing amazing organic food and methods for how to grow food sustainably.
Funding from ENRaW is helping to create a ‘Health Meadow’ at Llandough Hospital in the Vale of Glamorgan. Down to Earth are working closely with 2 health boards – Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Velindre University NHS Trust.
The first scheme is a ground-breaking, green infrastructure partnership project with Cardiff & Vale Health Charity and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, known as “Our Health Meadow”.
Working closely with staff, patients and the wider community, it will create an outdoor healthcare and rehabilitation facility based on 14 acres of woodland and meadow next to University Hospital Llandough over the next 2 years between June 2021 and June 2023.