Still reaping rewards … the story of a 2017 community garden grant

In 2017 the National Garden Scheme chose the National Autistic Society (NAS) as one of its guest charities*. Grants were available to branches of NAS nationwide to create a garden experience for people with autism. The aims were to promote health and wellbeing within this hard to reach community.

This is the story from members, parents and carers at the Conwy and Denbighshire NAS Branch, all volunteers.

After discussions and lots of ideas, we came up with a plan to build an autism community garden. This included an 8m x 8m fruit cage and 12 raised beds to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. We then bid for the money to bring our dream to life. We were successful in getting a £5,000 grant from the National Garden Scheme.

Over seven years the “Growing Garden” has developed into a community resource, haven and garden for all. We joined with the Incredible Edible movement to open the garden up further to anyone who would like to get involved. We run “Rake and Cake” monthly events where children and adults come to do a bit of gardening and eat cake.

We have been joined by an internationally renowned butterfly expert, who has assisted in rewilding grassland, and surveying our developing fauna and flora. We have continued sowing, planting and dividing fruit, vegetables and herbs. This keeps our costs and carbon footprint low. Everything we grow is freely available to all.

The group was encouraged to get involved with RHS In Bloom and It’s Your Neighbourhood. The first year we attained “Level 4″, and all subsequent years we have been awarded “Level 5 Outstanding”.

Our group has members who struggle to receive positive recognition and it was the National Garden Scheme’s generosity seven years ago that started this adventure. Thank you!


Examples of the impact of the garden in the 2023 growing season:

  • A young man with autism wanted a 1:1 gardening tutorial as he was very shy and quiet. He met up with one volunteer, and took rosemary cuttings, planted seed potatoes, and made cane wigwams. This young man travelled over an hour independently by bus on a weekly basis. He subsequently took responsibility for the “no dig” weeding around the fruit trees in the wildflower meadow. He also was able to come and participate in the community rake and cake events.
  • The local nursery brought the children to visit the garden and learn how food grows. They were all given runner beans, and the nursery had a fun competition to see who could grow the tallest beanstalk.
  • A neighbour who lived in a flat without any access to a garden, came to ask if she could grow lettuce in one of the raised beds. Chatting whilst sowing the seeds, she told us the reason for wanting to grow Webbs lettuce. She was raised by her grandparents, and they had very little money. As a treat they would go to the village greengrocer and buy a Webbs lettuce, and make a lettuce sandwich. She could still remember the flavour and crunch, but also the love of her grandparents.

“It is hugely encouraging to read about the continuing, long-term benefits of our grants to community gardens,” says National Garden Scheme Chief Executive, George Plumptre. “That an initial injection of funding, coupled with the enthusiasm and dedication of passionate volunteers can create such a thriving community is exactly the legacy we look for when we award these grants. Congratulations to everyone involved.”


You can visit the Instagram page “incredible edible growing garden”  for a timeline of 300 photos to date CLICK HERE

*The National Garden Scheme no longer runs a Guest Charity programme. But for more news about funding for Community Garden Grants click here



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Our donations in 2023

Donor 1
Donor 2 £450,000
Donor 3 £450,000
Donor 4 £450,000
Donor 5 £425,000
Donor 6 £350,000
Donor 7 £350,000
Donor 8
Donor 9 £100,000
Donor 10 £90,000
Donor 11 £80,000
Donor 12 £281,000
Donor 13 £260,000