As the world continues to count, not just, the unimaginable loss of lives caused by the #COVID19 pandemic, but consider the wider ramifications that the pandemic has caused to every aspect of society and the global economy, there is, it seems, pockets of fundamental change, taking hold in neighbourhoods and streets everywhere...
Lockdown has, kickstarted a ‘green revolution’, as Coronavirus only served to highlight the fragility, and futility of our globalised food system that left millions of people food poor and millions of others, with time to spare.
Our paved over driveways, decked lawns and neglected back yards were ripped up and planted, with a cornucopia of delicious veg, we are in the midst, of a ‘grow your own’ movement that can only have positive benefits for mankind.
Not to mention, less food miles, improved food provenance, better nutrition, less chemical nasties, smaller grocery bills, reduced waste, and a satisfaction that you only appreciate when you grow your own.
Demand for seeds during lockdown rocketed with online sales reaching record highs, whilst the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, recorded spikes on many of its website’s pages, that provide practical gardening tips and advice.
In addition to the rise of the backyard and allotment gardener, is the number of community gardens, that are taking shape in towns and cities around the world. These community gardens are maintained by local people to benefit the local people and, are, a cause for celebration.
These urban gardens are not just about growing fresh, local food that is highly nutritious and affordable, these urban spaces are about community, bringing people together in a truly positive, life affirming way.
In many ways the community garden, herald a return to a forgotten time, a bygone age - one where we knew our neighbours, where we worked locally, where we had daily conversations, where we shared what we had, and where we helped each other through thick and thin…
Community gardens, not only symbolise hope, they are a catalyst for change.
Transforming often dysfunctional, unused vacant spaces, to address many socioeconomic problems, healing often deep rooted insecurities to inspire positive change and cultivate an ethos of caring and sharing. And, being truly intergenerational the community gardens can work to regenerate entire neighbourhoods and are good for our health and well being too, having far reaching, long-term and positive effects on society as a whole.
So, if you have discovered a piece of unused or derelict land in your neighbourhood and you want to make a positive contribution to your community, why not consider starting a community garden.
Here’s our simple checklist to help you get started.
1. Identify who owns the land – as you will need the landowner’s approval. And, make sure you get it in writing that they know what the land is going to be used for, by whom and for how long.
2. Before you start preparing the land, or enlisting an army of volunteers, it is worthwhile…
Getting any insurance you might need in place. In the UK, for example, it would be advisable to have public liability insurance as accidents do happen.
Planning, yes, planning. Working out who your garden will serve, what its purpose etc will really help you to succeed.
Naming and setting up an organisation or co-operative will ensure that you and your members will work together.
3. Plan, design and set up - make a rough plan or call in a favour so that you can begin to visualise your space. Don’t be afraid to ask the community for their input too.
4. Get your hands dirty – let the fun begin as you start the rewarding task of clearing the land.
5. Design – now that you have cleared the land, it is time to consider how you can make best use of the available space so that you, and your community, can reap its rewards.
Don’t forget to factor in storage space for tools, a place to compost and allocating space where you can bring people together – be it a shed, an outside seating area, a raised bed or even an underground bunker…
6. Don’t forget – it’s a community garden and you can look to the community to help you fund your project. Apply to your local authority, or town council, and you could, even look to host fund-raisers too.
7. Enjoy – after all, a community garden is about bringing people together.
If you have started a community garden why not get in touch.