If you are running or supporting a community project, garden or allotment, you are invested in it sustaining and flourishing. There are functions and practices, apart from horticulture and depending on your activities, size, objectives and funding, that you may or may not need to put in place and deliver.
Here are critical functions to consider; see them as a circle or loop that we ‘practice’.
Consultation is crucial when starting a project, particularly if it is on public or ‘common’ land or will affect local people or organisations. Make a list of your neighbours, partners and other stakeholders, then plan for how you will get their input. Old-fashioned fliers and posters and Facebook can work best.
It starts with consultation and continues. Keep open to feedback and be proactive in letting your stakeholders know what you are doing when there are changes or updates to share. If you get complaints, handle them efficiently, recognising that not everyone understands the benefits of growing, and you may have to ‘sell’ your work and get them involved.
Planning and Improvement
Growing settings often dictate, through plants and the season, our planning and activities. When a need or opportunity arises, we can be reactive and that is no bad thing. Also, take a bit of ‘time out’, with the people that run or use the project and site, and partners if appropriate, to plan and improve what you do for your site, group and community.
Evaluation and Impact
Part of improving impact is evaluation of the output and outcomes that our work generates. It may be necessary to do a more formal, or independent evaluation if you receive funding. If not, use a less formal process to keep or get people involved, develop your site, ensure you are inclusive or make changes for the better. Simple recording of outputs, quantitative for the number of volunteers and how much grown, for example, to qualitative, when people share their experiences of being involved, are effective ways to collect ‘data’ to sustain and flourish.
We know it is not always easy, but remember there is help out there.
A lot of advice and guidance is available to help you get started and support you to succeed.
help@ can help you clarify your priorities, find the exact resource you need and connect and learn from others.
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