Grey to Green Demonstrator Project
Making the city centre greener
A Bolder Vision for Belfast identifies the importance of transforming critical parts of Belfast to create a safer, greener, and more accessible city.
We are inviting expressions of interest from organisations with the expertise and capability to undertake a city centre demonstrator project, to include a social farm or garden, potentially located on a council owned site.
Grey to Green Demonstrator project fund proposals
We are seeking expressions of interest from Belfast based SMEs, community groups and schools to create an interim or “meanwhile” city centre social farm or garden for a period of around 18 months.
The project should focus on urban farming, social gardening, or community food growing initiatives, with the possibility of using a council owned site, subject to approval. Applicants must include in their submission a detailed maintenance plan for their project proposal for the full duration of the meanwhile period i.e. up to two years. Applicants must also submit an engagement plan, demonstrating how they will engage with local communities to encourage ownership, participation, and long-term site maintenance.
Grey to Green Demonstrator project fund objectives
The demonstrator project is one of the key actions to come out of the Belfast Healthy Cities ‘Greening the City’ workshop in August 2022 and is part of the ‘Greening the City’ Advisory Group’s ongoing work. This Advisory Group was formed after the workshop and the organisations involved are detailed below.
The primary objective is to deliver a city centre greening project that encompasses social farming or gardening or community food growing, drawing on the Advisory Group’s expertise, and to share learning from the project. Applicants should give due consideration to how urban farming or gardening can be encouraged in the city centre, with proactive community engagement to encourage a sense of community ownership, as well as creating a biodiverse site by introducing flora and fauna using planting, insect boxes etc.
This is a potential opportunity to deliver a city centre greening project, drawing on the Advisory Group’s expertise - and to create shared learning on what does and does not work for this type of project in Belfast city centre.
The Greening the City Advisory Group agreed to focus on the following three key themes in a bid to make the project exemplary:
- Urban farming or agriculture, and how this can be encouraged in Belfast and in the city centre.
- Community engagement and creating a sense of ownership with stakeholders including local residents, businesses, schools, and commuters or visitors.
- Education and learning, including how the demonstrator project can help people learn about food growing, urban agriculture, horticulture, nutrition, and links to health and wellbeing.
Organisations represented on the Greening the City Advisory Group are:
- Belfast City Council
- Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
- Belfast Healthy Cities
- Belfast Hills Partnership
- Department for Infrastructure
- EastSide Partnership
- Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful
- Northern Ireland Environment Link
- Northern Ireland Housing Executive
- Outdoor Recreation NI
- Public Health Agency
- Queen's University Belfast
- RSPB NI
- Social Farms and Gardens
- West Belfast Partnership Board
The funding objectives include:
- sustainable greening of a city centre site
- increasing biodiversity
- introducing native species to the city centre
- introducing wildlife using bug hotels etc.
- trail of social farming/gardening within the city centre
The project must be completed by 29 February 2024.
If a project is awarded a grant, the applicant will be responsible for regular maintenance of the greening infrastructure and ongoing capital costs after the project is complete.
We are seeking expressions of interest from Belfast based SMEs, community groups and schools for the Grey to Green: Demonstrator Project fund. This will provide capital support of up £50,000 to incentivise the creation of a demonstrator project that would include an element of city centre social farming/gardening or community food growing. Applicants will need to provide details on their project location, their proposal, including proposed method of community engagement, and anticipated outcomes, as well as how the project aligns with the fund criteria.
We are seeking expressions of interest for a greening project which meets the following criteria:
The project should be located in the city centre and the applicant must provide evidence of written permission to use the proposed site from the owner.
- Help combat pollution and improve air quality
Applicants must outline how their greening project will help reduce or eliminate pollution, for example, through the introduction of pollinator plants and ivy.
Greening should be undertaken in a sustainable manner, with a view to how the project will be maintained in the future by the land/building owner. Preference will be given to projects that can demonstrate adaptability, legacy or scalability beyond a “meanwhile” period and across other city centre locations.
- Pollinators and native species
Applicants should demonstrate how their proposal will incorporate pollinators and how native species can be introduced.
The all-Ireland pollinator website is a good resource for information on pollinators:
pollinators.ie/top-ten-ways-to-help-pollinators (link opens in new window)
The integration of insect and bug hotels in projects will be encouraged.
Projects must be visible and fully accessible to the public. Rooftop gardens will not be eligible for this fund unless they are publicly accessible.
- Innovative and deliverable
As the project name suggests, your ‘Demonstrator’ must be innovative, ambitious, and scalable, while simultaneously being achievable and realistic within the time, scope, and budgetary parameters.