Adopt a Garden

The Footprint Trust has made the difficult decision to bring the Adopt A Garden scheme to an end.
The scheme has been in existence for over five years, and dozens of people have been matched.
However, the shortage of funding opportunities and a lack of gardeners coming forward has led to the charity making this move.


If you would like a growing space of your own but can’t wait years for an allotment then Adopt-A-Garden could be for you!

Latest News 2014: Get growing, cooking and eating with Adopt-A-Garden!

Can You Dig It? – Our free training materials for gardeners
Adopt a Garden Leaflet [PDF]

Adopt a Garden Radio Advert [MP3]

See the Adopt-A-Garden blog from Rachel Brown, one of our keen gardeners…

To date this Isle of Wight scheme has matched dozens of keen gardeners with elderly people who can no longer tend their gardens.

Tonnes of vegetables have been grown of previously neglected land, food miles have been reduced and gardens brought back into production.

There are some 3,000 uncared for gardens on the Island, and you could be growing local food for your family and helping an elderly neighbour.

“The scheme has had other add-on benefits. New friendships have developed between neighbours and across the generations…“ said Ray Harrington-Vail of The Footprint Trust, who are leading the project.

Adopt-A-Garden keeps a list of those who are offering gardens and those looking for a growing space. Safety is our number one priority. We carry out a free CRB (police check) to keep everyone safe.

Thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Local Food Fund and IW Adult & Community Learning we have been able to train people new to gardening.

The public and parish councils can help by distributing promotional leaflets and putting up posters in local shops, community centres, churches and schools.

Santander Foundation have generously supported this project.

Principles of the Project

The Trust explains some of the practicalities of the running of the scheme.

“Only gardens that can be accessed from the public highway, i.e. not through a house, are eligible. The gardeners must be allowed access to tend their produce every day. In some cases it might be necessary to give the gardener a key to the garden gate so this can occur. The area handed over to the gardener should be clearly defined. Issues such as cutting of the lawn or removal of any lawn area should be discussed at an initial meeting. The gardener must dispose of all rubbish created in the growing process. Composting of uncooked organic matter should be permitted, but away from the house. No bonfires should be lit. Householder must have safe access to their garden at all times and to paths, washing line, outhouses etc. Sitting of waterbutts, compost bins or any other structure should also be agreed beforehand. We would suggest that no money changes hands from either party. Mains water, if used, could be donated by the householder as a way of saying thank you for looking after their garden.”

The Footprint Trust, a local registered environmental charity, has a commitment to renew and sustain the essential connection between people, plants, and the environment. The satisfying experiences of planting, cultivating, and harvesting fruits and vegetables can create a lifelong appreciation for healthy living. The Trust believes that gardening is a means of promoting education, health and wellness, environmental stewardship and community endeavour.

Anchor Staying Put supports this project due to its commitment to helping older and disabled people to stay living in their own homes independently, safely, securely and warmly. Tash Koerner, Agency Manager, said:

“Frequently, people also request assistance from us for help with maintaining their garden to prevent themselves from tripping over stones or broken paving slabs, or so they can simply hang out the washing or appreciate the view. The Adopt-A-Garden scheme will allow people to enjoy their garden as an extension to their home more safely.”

History of the Project

It is the case that many Islanders can no longer look after their gardens due to ill health or old age. Volunteers to assist with this growing problem are hard to come by, but ironically there is an increased interest in gardening amongst younger people, many of whom have small gardens or no gardens at all. There is also a waiting list of over 250 people for Isle of Wight Council allotments. The Isle of Wight Council endorses the scheme and encourages anyone currently on the allotment waiting list to consider this innovative alternative.

In the past the Local Food Fund, Isle of Wight Charitable Trust, IW Adult & Community Learning and Anchor Staying Put have contributed to the project.

As of September 2008:

Over 70 households are signed up – about 90 people
We have carried out CRB’s (Police) checks on 41 people
Matched up 15 “pairs”, of whom 8 are “active” at the moment
8 “active” pairings
Several mainland LA’s and charities are interested
TV & radio – has been featured on BBC TV South Today, BBC Radio 2, Radio Solent, IW Radio and Angel Radio.
Interest has been shown from BBC Inside Out, River Cottage & The One Show
Has been mentioned in – Gardening News, County Press, IW Beacon, Island Life, various Parish newsletters, Internet news sites, Medina and S W Housing newsletters & Ventnor carnival green float
You can see the project in action in a video clip from South Today on the BBC’s website, as well as listen to a radio interview:

Adopt–A-Garden in your community

Following on from the successful Adopt-A-Garden model, piloted on the Isle of Wight, many local communities now want a scheme of their own. Read more… [PDF]

We would suggest that before any more Adopt-A-Garden schemes are started that those interested read our report on our pilot scheme, which addresses funding, safety and other issues.

Our report includes details on how to set up a scheme along with all the forms and guidelines for those taking part.
Adopt-a-Garden Report, March 2009 [PDF, 1.1Mb]

Details of support and fundraising opportunities… [PDF]

The Footprint Trust is in a position to offer guidance on how to set up a scheme based on our experience of running this project and our other community-based endeavours.

If your organisation might be interested in launching the scheme in your community than please email us (