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Making a difference
Case Study

Thyme for Growing at Ryder Brow Community Allotments

Older people from Ryder Brow Community Allotment Society (RBCAS) in Gorton, Manchester are making their neighbourhood a much better place to look at and be in, and creating a beautiful legacy for future generations.



Using organic gardening methods they are rejuvenating a derelict allotment site that has been fly-tipped and neglected for more than 30 years, winning the “Pride of Gorton Clean and Green Award 2020” for their efforts.


During the pandemic Marva from the Allotments received an investment from Ambition for Ageing, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, to bring older people safely together to learn about organic gardening and sensory plants. Over four weekly workshops the older people propagated and planted their chosen plants in the allotment, and in containers to take home. They made connections that have grown into friendships, and nourished the motivation to carry on nurturing the sensory garden after the project finished.


Marva highlights the importance of nature for wellbeing saying: “Observing seasonal changes and having contact with wildlife enhances older people’s mental wellbeing. The seclusion of the site provides a peaceful setting, enabling time for tranquil reflection when people return to maintain their own growing spaces.”


Venford lives alone in sheltered accommodation and doesn’t readily speak to people he doesn’t know. He gained confidence during the project and was able to share his vision for the sensory garden with others. He said “We’re making the community a better place by meeting up, and also making new friends while learning new things. It’s important to stay open to new experiences – you’re never too old to learn”.


For Doretta the project provided an opportunity to take some time out for herself. She said: “This project gives me time to enjoy peace of mind. No matter what your age or ability you can be involved. It’s very therapeutic. Learning something new helps me grow from within, blossom and heal.”


Ryder Brow Community Allotment Society have now won further funding. The 'We Love Manchester Charity, Stronger Communities Fund' supported another four weeks of the “Thyme for Growing” sensory garden project; 'Our Manchester' has funded individual growing spaces; and there is a new growing project this autumn thanks to the 'Manchester Wellbeing Fund'. Marva and the older members of RBCAS have transformed this neglected space beyond recognition with their energy, skills and commitment and they continue to involve older people in creating green space in the city.