Many local folk on a mission to grow food and community want to do just that. Enablers can support local action in a number of ways to support groups to get growing and ensure that everyone benefits. Menstrie Community Garden reflects on 20 years of partnership with the community council.
When we started our growing journey, I was a keen gardener and, at that time, Chair of the Community Council. We took on developing the old drying area for council flats within Menstrie Castle that had become derelict and a dumping ground for rubbish and a drinking den. We approached our local council and were granted a year-on-year lease of £1 per anum. The land itself had a tarred surface and was not particularly conducive to growing but we successfully applied for a grant to secure and clear the area and purchase a polytunnel, and then when the council nursery closed, we repurposed their old sleepers as raised beds for growing on top of the tarmac.
The Community Council were central to our establishment; as a constituted body, we could access grant funding for garden developments, access council officers and politicians, and the legal dept to draw up a lease. Over time the raised beds became unsafe, the volunteers a little older, and the site looked a little sad. Over all these years, the volunteers had no real identity and, despite supporting us through our journey, no real position on the Community Council; more recently this has all changed and ‘Stan’s Gardening Club’ ( named after one of our main volunteers passed away) became a recognised group under the umbrella of Menstrie Community Council. This has given us access to a bank account, constitution and ongoing support. Reinvigorated and under the community council umbrella, we successfully applied for a grant (circa £11.5k), redeveloping the garden to be more user-friendly and easier access to work for the raised beds.
The new garden is used as a growing area but also serves as a community meeting point, not just for gardening but for events (the polytunnel becomes a Santa’s grotto!), get-togethers and, importantly, to bring our school children into growing food and, flowers, essential for our next generation of volunteers.
We welcome many groups through our gates, some to garden, some to enjoy the facility, but each one brings a new perspective to our small group and our connection with the community.