Asylum seekers get involved in community gardens

Soil and Clay, a project recently launched by Trinity Centre, means to connect asylum seekers and locals through gardening.

New project launched by Trinity Centre intends to bridge the gap between asylum seekers and local Cardiff residents through gardening and ceramics.

Soil and Clay – Global Gardens is a free 16 week program happening every Tuesday at 10am at Trinity Centre. It involves various activities such as gardening, pottery making, yoga, and cooking. All the gardening activities take place at the Riverside Market Garden and Coed Hills Forest Garden.

The project is meant to improve the health and well-being of asylum seekers while connecting them with locals.

“The whole idea of this project is this huge health well-being element,” says Mustafa Hameed, co-founder of the project and involved with Trinity Centre. “We think as well as them getting accommodation and food provision, the psychology of staying motivated and staying positive is also important. So projects like these are just as important as anything else that we can give them. Having a space for them to attend and feel comfortable, distract their minds from the problems that they have.”

mental health and refugees

One key aspect of the project is the idea of communal gardens and how to use them to cook fresh, healthy and organic products.

“Cardiff is such a diverse population that I felt the garden would be an amazing opportunity to bring people from different cultures together and explore different plants and different cuisines as well within the garden,” explains Poppy Nicol co-founder of the project and involved in Riverside Market Garden.

The project consist of three main parts, the first being the gardening which focus on gardening techniques and agroforestry techniques. Then comes the ceramic part ran by local professional ceramicist Jack Welbourne, where participants explore different techniques and make pieces that will then be used for the final part of the project.

“The final part is the feast”, explains Poppy. “The idea is not only coming together through the gardening and clay ceramics but also through cooking. So I’ve been trying to encourage different people to kind of curate the meal every week. So we’ve had so far a Kurdish rice and beans, a middle Eastern Shorbat, which is like a lentil soup, and the first week Jack and I cooked leek and potato soup.”

Some participants have shown a real enthusiasm and talent for some of the activities included in the program. A Kurdish asylum seekers explains how he enjoys making things with his own hands during the ceramic workshop and proudly shows pictures of what he made during the session.

The project came to life last July when Mustafa and Poppy met at local art gallery g39. They decided to join their expertise and started raising fund for Soil and Clay. Jack Welbourne, local professional ceramicist, joined the project making the ceramic part possible. Finally, yoga teacher Kalpana also joined the project adding one more activity to this already diverse project.

“It’s been really good to incorporate some body work within the project,” says Poppy. “Kalpana is a yoga and qi gong teacher and she’s been doing some classes when she can. Some people really seem to enjoy it. It’s nice to have that kind of meditation element and stretching as well as the creative things.“

soil and clay

The project is open to people if they want to join so If you like gardening and would like to expand your cultural horizon, why not giving it a try?

Additional Information:

Soil and Clay happens every Tuesday at 10am at Trinity Centre

Every participant gets a box of Riverside market garden produce as part of the project thanks to the Pears Fund.

Facebook group: Soil and Clay-Global Gardens