Who We Are

Heidi Seary and Keeley Smith:
we met one sunny day in May, fifteen years ago, when we started  at the same national community farm and garden charity.  Our combined experience (Keeley as a teacher and school farm and garden manager; Heidi as a community and charity project coordinator and trainer) was such a great fit, we had to start our own C.I.C. Since then we have worked on countless exciting and diverse projects and we have brought together everything we know to support vital work like yours.

Growing Connections CIC provides expertise and consultancy, education and training for community gardens, care farms, school farms and gardens, and city farms.

We support both staff and volunteers to develop their projects, their skills and their networks. We deliver CPD training unique to the sector, based on our shared over three decades of experience and education in community projects and education settings. We  also support local growing projects, schools, and community growing groups to find ways to bring in income and build capacity and resilience.

We deliver a range of training programs both online and face to face as well as offering personalised consultancy to organisations. Our aim is to cover every aspect of what it takes to create and grow a successful community gardening or animal care project that delivers real, meaningful outcomes for the people it serves, whether you are a community group, independent business, school or local authority project.

Because our expertise and experience is in education and in community projects, in protocols and practicalities, we can go way beyond supporting you to grow veg and look after animals (but we can help with that too!).

The Team

Our work

We deliver quality face to face and online training in a range of subjects including  courses for those working with schools or in schools who garden and keep animals in educational settings to support learning and well being. We deliver the Cultivating Schools course and the European ECVET accredited Gardeniser course.

We also deliver throughout the year shorter 3 hour webinars on specific subjects such as:

  • Sustainability and regenerative agriculture/permaculture.
  • Strategic planning and management
  • Exotics care
  • Livestock care
  • Small animal care
  • Learning and curriculum
  • Supporting Social, Emotional, Mental Health- (SEMH)

 We can deliver bespoke consultancy to community groups and schools interested in outdoor education on a wide range of subjects including:

 •Livestock • Poultry • small animals and exotics • Managing children’s Health and well being through growing and animals(SEMH) • Setting up a vegetable garden at schools or with schools. 

 Contact us on admin@growingconnections.org.uk to find out more. 




Cultivating Schools Online Course

Gardeniser online and face to face courses

Are you a teacher or community garden working in or with schools teaching children about how to look after plants and animals and want support to enable learning and wellbeing in schools?

Our online course covers the ethos behind why growing and keeping animals benefits both learning and wellbeing outcomes and the practicalities of working with schools and other education settings.


Our next 8 week course will start 19th September and runs until 21st November with a two week break in the middle. To apply for a place on this course go to the application form which can be found here


For further information contact us at admin@growingconnections.org.uk

Gardeniser is a  European training programme funded originally by Erasmus+ that aims to upskill Gardenisers across Europe. 


The Gardeniser course is a formal qualification that recognises the professional skills required for an organising role within a community garden, farm or growing space teaches ‘everything you need to know about running a community garden apart from the gardening'.


The next 10 week course will be online using Zoom i10th September- 26th November  2024 with a 2 week break in the middle.  For further information please contact admin@growingconnections.org.uk 

To apply for a place on this course go to the application form which can be found here.


Keeley and Heidi possess a wealth of expertise and knowledge, enabling them to provide comprehensive consultancy and support across various areas. Their areas of specialisation encompass:


- The establishment of new community growing initiatives, care farm projects, and school farm endeavours. 


-Guidance on governance and legal structures, ensuring compliance and efficiency. 


-Recruiting and managing volunteers


- Negotiating  and creating land agreements. 


- Animal care, encompassing livestock, poultry, small animals, and exotics. 


- Managing children's health and wellbeing through the integration of growing practices and animal interaction.


 With their professional acumen, Keeley and Heidi are well-equipped to address a diverse range of needs and deliver exceptional results.

Teacher Keeley Smith is currently Assistant CEO of Gloverspiece Mini Farm Group overseeing a Care Farm, animal sanctuary, college and SEN School


Heidi Seary has over 20 years of training experience supporting a wide range of organisations in the community growing sector. 

Can we help you?

Do you want to know more or you have a specific question? Please get in touch. We would love to hear from you. 

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