Our work is completely voluntary so we rely on the enthusiasm and time of volunteers to drive our project. Having started with a blank canvas in 2017, we’ve been inspired by what our volunteer group has already done so far. There’s still a long way to go, and a lot of lessons to be learned, but one of the best things about our project is being able to share ideas and work together. After all, we’ve already found there’s always someone who has a good tip or trick to help us overcome certain challenges along the way.
Progress so far
Our blog provides the details about where we are on the project so far – including the major events, past and present, in building our community garden. At the time this website went live (Jan 2018), we had achieved the following steps to start-up the project:
We’re delighted to have had input from Kayode Olafimihan, permaculture practitioner and London Permaculture Festival organiser, who helped us start the project with a recommended Permaculture Design Proposal for our plot.
His original proposal was to take the plot from this:
To something like this:
We’re also grateful to James Hardiman and Susan Courtney, husband and wife permaculture practitioners and inspiration behind Foldehampton Village for the Future who came up to Milton Keynes from Hampshire for a weekend to facilitate our Sustainable Gardening Workshop. Their practical guidance and insights into permaculture ways of thinking helped us begin taking tangible steps towards building our community garden.
And last, but by no means least, we are ever-grateful to our project group volunteers, who continue to keep the project moving with their time and endeavour.
Why a Permaculture Approach?
The purpose of creating an edible garden is for us to yield crops that we can eat and share. “Obtaining a yield” is the third permaculture design principle, based on the requirement that you are getting truly useful rewards from the work you’re doing.
For our project, there are other less tangible—but no less valuable—yields to be had from us creating a permaculture community garden. This includes the yields we expect to gain from the social enterprise of local residents working together to:
- mulch paths, build planting beds, create tool sheds, share seeds etc
- share knowledge, enthusiasm and energy
- learn to grow our own food and develop practical, long lasting alternatives to the current food system
With a some elbow grease and a lot of community-spirit we’ll Plant Up and turn the grassy pasture at the entrance of Westbury Arts Centre into a productive, permaculture paradise.
The idea is for us to create a safe accessible garden where people of all ages and abilities can connect and work together on something meaningful – growing food and flowers, tending to plants, maintaining wildlife habitats and learning from one another.
One day, we hope to have a lively timetable of events to complement Westbury Arts Centre’s. For example, we could have:
- Regular gardening clubs
- Art and gardening workshops
- Parent and toddler group activities
- Therapeutic gardening sessions
- Walk and Talk tours for different groups
- School trips to learn about permaculture
- Plus, a myriad of ways of sharing our organic produce and our growing and cooking knowledge with the local community.
We will always welcome new volunteers – particularly now, in these early stages of the project. Please contact us if you’re interested in joining – no matter what your skills or knowledge.
We look forward to seeing you in the garden!