The new Gardens of Sanctuary project was presented to the Oxford Real Farming Conference this week by Ben Margolis from The Grange and Sophie Antonelli from the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. They are working with City of Sanctuary and the Permaculture Association to support growing spaces around the UK to become places of welcome and sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers.

The Grange in West Norfolk has been welcoming asylum seekers since 2012 and became the first ‘Home of Sanctuary’ in 2013. There has been an increase in the number of growing spaces interested in welcoming asylum seekers particularly since increased media coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis. Ben and Sophie presented the research and case studies they have done so far to the conference which brings together around 800 farmers, smallholders, food activists, researchers and others.

The project has so far carried out two online surveys showing a huge desire from growing spaces and refugee and asylum organisations to work together to develop therapeutic, learning and integration opportunities. The surveys also identified several barriers including a lack of knowledge from growing spaces about how to engage with asylum seekers, and concerns over language barriers, trauma and offering appropriate support. Through Gardens of Sanctuary we will be supporting growing spaces with training and a resource pack to encourage and enable them to become places of sanctuary.

The response from the 30+ people who attended the workshop was extremely positive with many people keen to find out how their own farms and smallholdings could become Gardens of Sanctuary and lots of offers of help from GPs, researchers and others.

To find out more about the project please register your interest at

Or e-mail Ben at [email protected]

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