Art Gene is recruiting at Allotment Soup – the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space

If you’re interested in nurturing plants and people, this role could be for you. We’re seeking a part-time, experienced Community Gardener for a February 2024 start. The postholder will help us bring in a large organic crop and lead community engagement sessions on food growing and planting for nature. All details, and how to apply are provided below.

Job description

We are seeking an engaging individual with an enthusiasm for organic growing and nature, a strong knowledge of plants, and an ability to share this interest in a proactive way with the Allotment Soup community.

Salary: £19,557pa for 4 days or 30 hours per week.

We can be flexible and will consider applications from skilled people interested in working fewer hours per week.

Terms: one-year, part-time, fixed-term contract with the possibility of extension (subject to funding). Friday working essential. Occasional weekend working required.

Benefits: 17 days annual leave plus pro rata bank holidays; 3% employer pension contribution.

Place of work: Allotment Soup community growing space on Mill Lane, Walney Island. Some very occasional office work required based at Art Gene’s offices: Bath Street, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, LA14 5TY.

Art Gene is an arts charity based in Barrow-in-Furness. We work with communities, developing projects around the social, natural and built environment. Art Gene established ‘Allotment Soup – the Isle of Walney community growing space’ in 2015/16 and it continues to develop year on year. We are focused on growing a community, as well as food and biodiversity.

On the off-grid 0.65-hectare site, you will find: community-managed and Art Gene-run growing plots; a large pond; hot composting; wormeries, a small orchard; new hedges and areas supporting wildflowers. With the help of volunteers, we have created a stock of tools and erected two industrial polytunnels.

These sheltered spaces are the venue for our engagement work with schools and other community groups, and are used for potting up, growing-on and much tea drinking. The organic food we grow across the site is cooked by volunteers and served free at events and shared with Allotment Soup volunteers.

In the coming year, we hope to extend the site, for example, to do more community tree planting, and there is the opportunity for the postholder to support this work, helping to protect more green space on Walney.

Objectives of the role:

  1. Work with the allotment volunteers, Art Gene staff and the wider community to support organic food production, sustainable growing practices and planting for biodiversity.
  2. Undertake seasonal garden maintenance work, including sewing, weeding, planting, pruning, watering, cropping, and raised bed and path repair.
  3. Develop and deliver focused community engagement sessions on Allotment Soup with community groups and schools; offer a warm welcome to visitors at all times.
  4. Work with the Arts Project and Communications Manager, the Art Gene Sites and Facilities Manager, our wider team and the Artist Directors, as required, to help facilitate volunteer work parties and creative events on site.
  5. Support any Allotment Soup extension projects, such as tree planting.


  • Lead on ensuring a healthy, seasonally varied crop is produced in 2024.
  • Work collaboratively with the team to plan, publicise and deliver hands-on gardening activity and maintenance tasks, directing volunteer labour as appropriate.
  • Support Art Gene team members responsible for grass cutting, tool maintenance and composting, when required, ensuring the whole site is always safe and well-maintained.
  • Work with the allotment volunteers, partners such as Natural England, and the wider community to support sustainability and planting for biodiversity.
  • Ensure the site is managed to high environmental standards, avoiding pesticides.
  • Communicate with and promote the Allotment Soup project to interested parties, as required, for example, by leading informal tours of the site and managing hands-on school visits.
  • Make recommendations for future growing and for development of the site.
  • Ensure Art Gene’s equal opportunity, inclusion, and health and safety polices are adhered to and ensure the project is accessible and welcoming to under-served groups, such as disabled people or refugees.
  • Provide data on the people who engage with the project for funders and management, as required.
  • Be responsive to the changing needs of the Allotment Soup project and take on any additional duties and tasks as required to deliver the contract.

Person specification

Skills and Qualifications

  • Demonstrable knowledge of edible plants and horticulture.
  • Experience of managing an allotment or large productive garden space.
  • Understanding of sustainability and the importance of gardening in a nature-friendly way.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Experience of working with volunteers and community groups.
  • Ability to teach volunteers by example the principles of good horticultural practice.

Personal Qualities

  • Approachable and engaging.
  • Self-motivated, with ability to work autonomously and manage own workload.
  • Able to take a flexible approach to delivering success; adaptable and creative.
  • Excited by the potential of a community growing space and of the role of community gardener; keen to communicate this enthusiasm to as wide an audience as possible.


  • Understanding of tree planting and care.
  • Driving license. Art Gene can provide a bicycle for use on workdays if required.

Art Gene will undertake a DBS check ahead of you working with members of the public.

Application and key dates

Please send a letter expressing your interest and suitability to take on this role, or a video of up to 8 minutes in length, alongside a full C.V. In your letter or video please address how your experience matches the Person Specification in this job description and what qualifies you to take on the responsibilities that are set out. If you are wish to offer fewer than 30 hours a week, please set out your preferences.

Send your application to by noon on Thursday, 11 January 2024. Please include the names of two referees, including phone numbers (not relatives). Please complete an Equal Opportunities form here.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview in person or on Zoom within 10 days of the deadline. Interviews are likely to take place on or before 19 January 2024. Ideally, we should like the successful candidate to start in February 2024.

In the event you are shortlisted for interview, please let us know in your application or in a separate email if we can offer any reasonable adjustments to help you access the interview and the role.

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Tel: +44 (0)1229 825085

Art Gene

Bath Street,


Cumbria, LA14 5TY England, UK

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