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From compost to computer – starting a gardening group in lockdown

One year on – Facebook group has nearly 100 members

By Community Reporter Don Jones

Main image Mike Robbins: Don maintaining the planters in Filwood Broadway last summer.

Like many people when the first Covid-19 lockdown started at the end of March last year –  I felt a vague sense of panic. 

Not so much about the infection itself, but the prospect of shielding home alone. 

My life has always been about the outdoors, I’m a passionate community gardener and spring is the most exciting time. At first, I felt lost – but I knew there had to be something positive I could still do. Even in lockdown. 

In former times – at Filwood Community Centre.

Once again it was gardening that came to my rescue – as it has done so often for me in times of crisis. I knew I couldn’t go out and do any of my usual work in community gardens. But I do have my own garden. And I have a computer.        

Being clueless about social media I tried to set up a self-help gardening group by e-mail, nervously reaching out to friends and neighbours, clogging up their inboxes with clumsy ‘reply to all’ chains. 

A friend helped me transfer the group onto its own dedicated Facebook group page and it really took off! We now have 98 members and rising, all exchanging ideas and gardening tips, sharing pictures and videos of their achievements.

The ‘Gardening Friends of Filwood’ Facebook group is for anyone and everyone, beginners and boffins, from Bristol or beyond. 

I know it’s made a positive difference to the community during lockdown. I suspect that in 2020 the Filwood/Knowle West area had some of the best gardens in the South West! 

But the impact on me personally has also been huge. I’ve made many new friends and learned so many new things beyond the horticultural – how to use social media and post items from my phone and about Zoom and Teams. 

Don is happier outside but he’s learnt to have meetings on Zoom and Teams.

I’ve also learned there are so many others, like me, who turn to their gardens as havens in difficult times. 

Far from the isolation I dreaded from doors closing, I’ve found the experience has actually been much more about doors opening.   

Facebook: Gardening Friends of Filwood