On the edge of the Mendip Hills in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, you'll find Root Connections, an incredible and inspiring Community Interest Company (CIC). I visited their community garden and on-site hostel to discover more about the organisation, its mission and to meet with some of the volunteers and residents who grow the beautiful, seasonal fresh flowers we sell in the shop.
We spoke with Suzanne to find out more...
How did Root Connections get started?
About eight years ago we started a hostel on the farm for people who were experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness or were rough sleeping. Initially spending three months here with us, our ethos centred around engaging residents in meaningful work, involving them to whatever extent they felt comfortable with the land and garden. Having this work experience on the land provided a great opportunity for residents to build up their CV as well as their confidence for the future.
Tell us a little more about The Dairy House
Our partnering charity is the Elim Connect Centre who run the Dairy House. The Dairy House is the onsite hostel and is a space where residents can start to build a sense of normality and structure through cooking and eating with one another. We also invite residents to join us for dinner in our home and attend church with us. It's an entirely holistic approach to recovery, allowing residents to enhance mind, body and soul.
How do you grow?
We grow using organic principles and without the use of harmful pesticides. We also adopt a no-dig method on some of our beds which helps to improve the soil structure and ensures the soil is rich in nutrients.
What do you grow?
We have launched an all year round Veg Box Scheme and between April and September we sell our seasonal cut flowers. In addition, our potted perennials, vegetables and honey made by our very own family of bees are sold at local markets, and every Friday we have a pop-up Farm Shop onsite open to the public. All money from our sales is reinvested into our project to help support our residents and our ultimate goal of ending rural homelessness.
What's next for Root Connections?
We are currently raising funds for our biggest project to date and probably our most exciting - the Community Hub - which will provide an educational space all year round. This will enable us to engage with our wider community - including schools, charities, commercial partners and many others - throughout the year and in all seasons.
During our visit, we were truly touched by some of the residents' stories and you get a real sense for how Root Connections helps the vulnerable to rebuild their confidence, social and practical skills, in turn, preparing them for life beyond Root Connections.
Root Connections' gorgeous bouquets of cut flowers are available to pick up from the shop. From the flowers sold in the shop, a proportion of the money goes back to their not for profit project, to support their residents and help bring an end to homelessness and rough sleeping in our rural community.
To find out more or donate to the Community Hub, visit Become a friend — Root Connections.
SHOP ROOT CONNECTIONS' FLOWERS IN-STORE