RHS & BBC The One Show community garden award winner revealed

The UP Garden in East London wins the first-ever Growing Together Award 2023 for Community Gardening

The RHS and BBC The One Show have announced the winner of the Growing Together Award 2023 for Community Gardening as The UP Garden, a formerly abandoned laundry yard in an East London housing estate, reclaimed by local residents to create a free-to-access upcycled community space.

“The story and the quick evolution of The UP Garden was so impressive that it just had to be recognised as the winner. A garden truly by the people, for the people. It goes to show what happens when the garden is seen as the fertile ground for change, beauty and local activism.”

Tayshan Hayden-Smith, community activist, garden designer and competition judge

A community effort

In the summer of 2021, a local resident had the idea to create a community space to allow for play and social gardening. An unused laundry yard in Eric Close, Forest Gate, 900 square metres in size (about the area of two basketball courts), was chosen and funding secured. Built in the 1950s, it originally contained a playground and was fully accessible to the whole estate – the washing lines remain, at one end of the yard, to this day. Over the decades, the space became overgrown with spiky brambles, making it inaccessible and unusable.

Work began to clear the site in the spring of 2022, and the whole community has been involved every step of the way. From consultation events on the garden layout, upcycling workshops to build furniture and planters, to community planting workshops to form the different gardening areas. Additionally, volunteering sessions were organised to create everything needed for the space.

Residents have given their time and energy, and their support kept the project going even when there were setbacks. Additionally, local businesses have made generous donations including plants, water tanks, sheds and refreshments to ensure the project’s success.

On 30 October 2022, The UP Garden opened its doors to visitors as a place for people of all ages to learn about gardening, biodiversity and eco-sustainability in a social environment. This colourful, welcoming space now hosts seasonal events and nature-based workshops, and is a hub for the community.

Bringing people together

The 2023 competition received more than 90 entries. Every entry was doing something to transform green spaces for the benefit of connecting communities through the power of gardening. All of these projects will be recognised with a certificate of achievement for their work.

“I feel so proud and inspired seeing just how much interest there is in community gardening from different communities, in all shapes and sizes. Ultimately, it is the planet and us, as a wider community, who benefit from these beautiful gardens that empower, inspire and educate.”

Tayshan Hayden-Smith, community activist, garden designer and competition judge

This year’s winner, The UP Garden, will receive £500 in National Garden Gift Vouchers, a plaque and certificate. The two runners up, Alive Wellspring Settlement and Grow Well Riverside, will also receive gift vouchers, and BBC The One Show will film some of the most outstanding entries.

Alive Wellspring Settlement, a community gardening project in Bristol, supports families, many who are new to growing and for whom English is a second language. They have converted two courtyards into gardens for growing fruit and veg to share between the community gardeners, local residents, and food club and community café.

Grow Well Riverside, a social prescribing project in Cardiff, through perseverance and determination, have transformed a bare space. It is now a vibrant, green area with ten new beds, lots of seating, herb hedges, wildflower meadow strips, fruit trees and pollinator-friendly flowers.

All these spaces are bringing people together, helping reduce isolation and having a positive impact on both physical and mental health.

If you’ve transformed a green space, we’d love to hear about itVisit our community gardening pages to find out more about how you can get involved. Sign up to our monthly newsletters for seasonal gardening news and tips.

“Community gardening can have a huge impact for both people and places, and in partnership with BBC The One Show, we are delighted to celebrate this with this special award. Watch out for details of how to get involved in the 2024 competition in the spring.”

Kay Clark, Community Development Manager

Thank you to all of our entrants

See a full list of our entrants for the Growing Together Award 2023 for Community Gardening
  • Abbey Green TRA, London
  • Ardagh Community Gardens Volunteer Group, Bristol
  • Ashington Veterans and Elders Institute Community Garden, Ashington
  • Aspinall Road Community Gardens, London
  • Badshot Lea Bloomers, Farnham
  • Blooming Inverkip, Inverkip, Greenock
  • Bridgefield Mills Serenity Gardens, Halifax
  • Burnfoot Community Futures, Hawick
  • Carless Eco Centre Gardening Guru's, Birmingham
  • Castle Heather Circle, Inverness
  • Chellaston Community Volunteers, Derby
  • Chester National Park City, Chester
  • Choices Allotment Club, Leicester
  • Chorley in Bloom, Chorley
  • City Farm (Stoke-on-Trent), Stoke-on-Trent
  • Connect Community Garden, Barry
  • Cranhill Community Gardens, Glasgow
  • Crawley & East Grinstead Branch of Parkinson's UK, Crawley
  • Crosby Row Community Garden, London
  • Deal Community Hospital Garden Volunteers, Whitfield
  • Down To Earth Derby, Derby
  • Eamon Cooke - working alongside community groups, Strabane
  • Eight Bells For Mental Health, Newbury
  • FARE Lochend Community Allotment, Glasgow
  • Friends of Betws, Ammanford
  • Friends of Rayleigh Station, Hockley
  • Friends of West Gorton Community Park, Manchester
  • Fruit & Nut Village, Birmingham
  • Fullers Slade Community Garden, Milton Keynes
  • Gosling Sike Garden Volunteer Group, Carlisle
  • Govenek (Age UK Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly), Newquay
  • Greening Maindee, Stroat
  • Griffithstown Community Garden, Torfaen
  • GRIT Studios, Stockport
  • Grounded: Growing on the ground, Grimsby
  • Grow Together Share Together, Dorking
  • Growing Chrysalis, Dundee
  • Growing Together at Fortune Works, Glasgow
  • Growing Well Garden, Crediton
  • Haydon Wick Memory Café, Swindon
  • Holmer Green Village Society, High Wycombe
  • Incredible Education CIC, Manchester
  • Inspero, Basingstoke
  • Isabella Heap Volunteers Group, Blyth
  • Kennedy Way Community Garden, Clacton On Sea
  • Larne Area Community Support Group (Larne Community Fridge & Garden), Larne
  • LEAP Community Green Dukinfield Tameside, Tameside
  • Lynsted Community Kitchen Garden, Sittingbourne
  • Marbury Road Edible Garden, Stockport
  • Meadow Street Community Garden and Woodland, Pontypridd
  • Melbourne Green, Plymouth
  • Memoria Barnby Moor Memorial Park & Crematorium, Retford
  • Mill Lane Community Garden, Chinnor
  • Mirfield Road Community Gardens, Manchester
  • Montpellier Therapeutic Allotment, Gloucester
  • Moreton in Bloom, Wirral
  • Newark College Growers, Newark
  • No Walls Gardens Community Interest Company, Gravesend
  • Onion Garden, London
  • Our Community Garden, Monkton Heathfield
  • Owd Martha’s Yard, Barnsley
  • Peterlee Community Garden Group, Peterlee
  • Plot Connections, Manchester
  • Portaferry In Bloom, Portaferry
  • Rainbow Alley, Belfast
  • Rise61, Salisbury
  • Rooting for Andover, Andover
  • Saxmundham Community Allotment, Dunwich
  • Self-sufficient children, Tamworth
  • Silsden Fire Station Community Allotment and Orchard, Silsden
  • South Woodham Ferrers Wellbeing Garden Project, Chelmsford
  • Spadework, West Malling
  • St Andrews Environmental Network Ltd, St Andrews
  • St Columbs Park Reconciliation Trust, Londonderry
  • St. John's, Dormansland, Lingfield
  • Storey Community Garden, Arundel
  • Sunken Garden Society, Margate
  • Surrey Choices Growth Team, Walton-on-Thames
  • TGV In Bloom, Swindon
  • Thamesmead Community Benefit Society, London
  • Thanet Martial Arts Centre, Margate
  • The Bromley Bloomers - The Friendship Garden, Congleton
  • The Knowe Community Garden, Auchinleck
  • The Lighthouse Gardens, London
  • Totnes Community Tennis Club, Dartington
  • Urban Roots, Runcorn
  • Weaponness Valley Community Group, Scarborough
  • Whitehall Park Supporters Group, Darwen Lancashire
  • William Street Community Garden, Kettering
  • Wingate Crescent, Croydon
  • Woodford Greeners, London

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