It’s a community garden after all!
Once you have a core group in place and the garden has been up and running for a season or so the next stage is to involve the wider community in the garden. We do this in a number of ways:
Welcome passers by who seem interested
The location of the garden in the waterworks means that we have lots of people passing by and we go out of our way to coax those people who take a tentative look but seem kindof shy to come and see what we are doing. This is not just the role of the Coordinator and the Community Garden Leader but is part of the ethos of the Grow and as such all of the Community Gardeners see it as part of what we are all about. Quite often I am in a different part of the garden and I will see one of the Community Gardeners talking to a couple of dog walkers and next thing they are giving them a tour of the garden.
Provide Gardening and Horticultural Advice
As the experience and confidence of Community Gardeners grows (excuse the pun!) we find ourselves providing a valuable service to the community, by way of growing advice. Many of the people in the local area have no growing space and many questions relate to how to grow edibles in concrete back yards!
Provide plants and seedlings to the local community
Given our commitment to sustainability we try to grow as many of our plants from seed, and where we can from seed we have saved from the previous year. We grow more than we need and then share the rest with the local community. Often people want to make a small donation for these plants and we will gladly add the small revenue made from these donations to our resources to buy things like milk, tea, cloths for the kitchen etc.
Invite local residents & supporters to Community Days
Since the inception of the garden we have put involvement of the wider community at the heart of what we do – both in terms of sharing the health and wellbeing benefits of growing your own veg and indeed growing our community. We have run a number of community days where local residents, local politicians, decision makers and funders come and meet the Garden Community and hear about what we are trying to do. Last year the Mayor launched the garden and the participants and local residents cooked up a feast for us all to enjoy after the formalities were over.
Involve local residents in visits & exchanges
As part of our ongoing learning and sharing each year we plan a number of visits and exchanges to other gardens, community initiatives and related projects. Last year we visited the Organic Centre in Leitrim. This year we will make a number of visits including one to Dublin to take part in the Bloom festival. We see it as part of our inclusion agenda to widen this opportunity to local residents and supporters.