There are so many ways a community garden can serve the local economy and its people – from supplying schools and food banks with food, to creating new job opportunities, or even just providing a sociable and relaxing place to go for some exercise, to connect with nature or just for a chat.
If you’re interested in creating a community garden for your local area in Milton Keynes, first check the Planting Up map to make sure there isn’t one to join already. If there isn’t, then the onus is very much on gauging the appetite for having one in your local area with your friends and neighbours to explore how you will carry the project forward together before looking to further support from groups and your town, parish or community council.
This checklist takes you through our recommended steps…
Identify the names of key people in your local community to be involved in a community garden project
Note contacts of leaders of local Neighourhood groups, the Residents Association, Youth group(s), the Community Centre, Parish Council, Church, School, GP surgery, local business hub, allotment/ gardening club(s) etc.)
Get a general feel for whether local people want a community garden and/or wildlife patch. Note the most popular “uses of our green space” ideas, suggested locations and names of the most enthusiastic people to be involved in the project.
Conduct surveys and ask local residents to meetings and events to get a firm idea of what your community wants to achieve.
Identify local people who want to be involved in the project & start meeting with them.
Gather names and get to know your core members – for example, talk about what people want to get from the project, the type of garden they want, motivations for joining, the skills they bring, their desired involvement (incl. long-term commitment), etc.
Identify possible locations for your community garden/wildlife patch on public land & begin making enquiries of land owners.
Consider access to water, how much sunlight the area will get, who owns the land and how easy it will be to get permission to use it.
Establish a core team of local residents to take ownership of the community garden project.
Get to know your members and begin thinking about how you want to coordinate the project together.
Organise your core team into a formal working group & begin planning how to take your community garden project forward.
Coordinate the practicalities of your group such as roles and responsibilities, and establish the overarching aim of the garden (such as food growing, aesthetics, attracting wildlife etc), who’s responsible for what (eg watering, seed collection), access to tools and other necessities for the garden work, where and when to meet, how to communicate as a group, how to involve locals (including schools and businesses), what insurance cover you need, etc.
Get your working group’s agreement on what outside help is needed from the Planting Up facilitator group & make contact at email@example.com
For example, do you need initial support setting up and planning the garden, help promoting events, information on plants, details for wildlife-friendly things you can do, ideas on sources of funding or how to apply etc?
Get out there! Bring your local community together to muck in & make a start on something to progress your community garden project.
Plant, grow, water, chat, share, eat… Celebrate your garden together, however small the wins.
Keep people involved by doing things like putting on events to share produce and information, creating a newsletter to communicate good news stories, showing off the garden in pictures around your local area etc.
Call in outside support for extra help when you need it.
Can the Planting Up facilitator group help with any educational workshops, training, advice etc?
Learn from experiences, keep planning new things & tell people about your project.
Check back on what you set out to do and what you’re achieving and what’s still to be accomplished. Check with members to keep improving your community garden together.