The Growing Project – Documentary

Find out more about The Growing Project

Birmingham arts organisation Grand Union has launched a new documentary about a homeless gardening project

Community-led regeneration

The Growing Project is a community-led growing scheme transforming the lives of Birmingham’s homeless and vulnerable communities through gardening together. The project aims to show how positive steps can tackle issues of homelessness, isolation, social and economic inequality, promote health and wellbeing, and create community-led inclusive solutions to regeneration. The project is collaborative at heart and the team includes Residents from Hostels, artists, volunteers, businesses, Spring Housing an organisation which provides homes for those in need, St Annes hostel, Crisis and SIFA Fireside, charities that work with vulnerable people and people experiencing homelessness.

Green-Sense the city

Aiming to ‘Green-Sense’ the city, The Growing Project improves sites across Birmingham by ‘growing food and creating green spaces’, sites that are developed, tended and nurtured by people experiencing difficult times. The project is currently operating in four hostels across the city. They also create visible platforms that help to change perceptions of vulnerable people, celebrating their production and demonstrating their positive contributions to society.

A woman in overalls and a man in a cap plant seeds
Participants in the project

The documentary

A new documentary about the project, from Grand Union and film director Sima Gonsai, was launched online on Friday 16th July 2021. Commissioned by The Space and filmed in Birmingham during the Spring, over 4 different locations, the film captures the real life stories, dreams and achievements of the people involved in the project, from participants, artists, gardeners and volunteers to the organisations underpinning the work. The garden becomes a place of shared stories, plant growing, food making, and also sanctuary, recovery and meaningful production. The film also shows the benefits of connecting people to nature when in difficult times and also questions what role local communities and the arts and culture can play to the post-covid19 social and economic recovery.

Selected for Gardens United

The garden created by the team was one of just 50 gardens from across the UK to be selected by Google Arts and Culture to feature within their Gardens United initiative. Users from across the globe are able to discover more about 50 unique UK gardens by exploring an interactive map. The Growing Project features alongside the Eden Project, Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace. Take a look at the Grwong Project on Gardens United.

Award nomination

The film was officially selected for the Birmingham Film Festival 2021, nominated as a finalist in the Best Documentary category.

The film premiered online on Friday 16 July 2021 and was followed by a Q&A with participants

Q&A Panel: Jo Capper (Collaborative Programme Curator, Grand Union), Sima Gonsai (Director) and a gardener and resident from the project in conversation with Cheryl Jones (Director of Grand Union)

View this case study

About this artist

Grand Union is a gallery and artists’ studios complex in Digbeth, Birmingham. It is a welcoming organisation, bringing the public closer to art and artists. It hosts a free programme of public exhibitions and events, with many opportunities to share food and ideas.