I live on a 50+ assisted living council estate - 2 tower blocks side by side with a lot of green space that's unused. Then I heard about this:
- and what's being done there. So I got thinking, ran the idea past a few people (with their heads screwed on better than mine!) and came up with our Garden Development Project.
Basically, it's about this:
1. We get vandalism, drug-takers, people using our estate as a cut-through (and sometimes as a public toilet) and for illegal car-parking, which makes access and parking difficult for residents and essential services.
2. The land doesn't look very attractive, and nobody wants to get outside and sit in it much - and anyway, there's no secure bit where you can sit in peace.
3. Lots of residents are shut-in and bored, lonely, isolated.
4. Quite a few have gardening skills, and miss the gardens they used to tend.
5. Gardening is good for you, and brings people together.
1. I put in some funding bids (Community Chest, Community Initiatives Fund, POC Fund) to develop our garden and get a gardening club going.
2. I found some project partners - therapeutic gardeners (from a local CIC), the police, the school and the pub - both next door, some city council staff involved in tenant participation and healthy activities promotion, local conservation groups, and got them involved with advice and support.
3. I found a local fencing/gardening expert and brought him in for a day to do some heavy work and involved residents who turned up wanting to help.
4. On that day I did a Launch event with refreshments in our communal room for everyone who wanted to help or get more info, regardless of whether they were physically able to prune, rake etc. Everyone needs to be consulted on how they want the garden to look...
There are a few photos on my page of the Launch event, which took place just a week ago. It was great to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine (we wrapped up warm of course). The aches and pains lasted and I'm still rubbing in the Deep Heat! But it was worth it.
I have a dream of this garden - herbs beds, roses, a hedge, butterflies and bees and birds enjoying it - and the people of course, salads, veg and fruit... Most of it so far has been achieved from the safety of my flat (I'm rather reclusive, as you may have gathered if you've read any of my previous stuff) - behind my computer or occasionally on the phone. And of course now other people are involved and the preparatory stage is complete, it's not just me. So if I have a meltdown, it's sustainable!
I'm focusing my thinking on the following at the mo: edible gardening (which is what Todmorden is about mainly), using the garden to conserve endangered species (such as the walnut tree, bees and hedgehogs) and how we can build bridges with the local community by the fact that we're showing them we love and respect our home and environment. Maybe someone here on the site has some ideas - if so, please don't hesitate to post them.
Wishing you a wonderful spring,
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