Together, we looked back at some of the fantastic things we achieved together in 2022, but we also focused on what we wanted to achieve in 2023.
We started 2022 with a relaunch. The Old North Stables became Worcester community garden, with a new site banner, new logo and new strap line – “a great place to grow”.
We launched a monthly newsletter to keep volunteers and supporters updated with plans and activities on site. In April we became a registered charity, with Steve Dent (Chair), Tony Kennell and Jon Bodenham as founding trustees, to be joined in June by Mandy Neill.
A transformation of the community garden site saw the creation of seven “small garden” projects, designed to engage and inspire visitors to try some of the ideas at home.
Our social media presence was given greater priority and range. By the end of the year, we had increased our volunteer base hours fourteen fold and raised over £20,000 in grant funding. Our volunteers had helped implement several successful flood mitigation measures – building up soil levels on the orchard garden to better protect our fruit trees, building a bee pontoon and a larger pontoon for our new toolstore and office. Throughout the year we ran a number of successful teaching workshops, including pruning, grafting, beekeeping, making natural dyes from plants and Christmas wreath making.
Individual – and group – referrals were accepted and welcomed from several outside bodies working in the mental health field, including the NHS, Mencap and OnSide Advocacy. We enjoyed hosting a weekly NHS art therapy class during the warmer months.
Positive links were established with other organisations including the RSPB, Worcester Environmental Group, University of the Third Age, Sanctuary Housing, the National Civilian Service, the cathedral eco group and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust .
In short, 2022 was a year of great progress and achievement. In 2023 we want to build on that solid foundation.
The trustees shared their priority objectives for 2023 with the meeting. These are:
- improve access to and within the community garden site
- improve the “visitor experience” through improved signage, site leaflet, small garden champions, Open Day
- develop opportunities for partnership working with relevant local groups such as Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, WEG, RSPB, DWT
- improve learning and development opportunities on site through mentoring and assignment of roles and responsibilities such as site supervisor and small garden champion
- maximise growing space on the main part of the site by refurbishing the donated greenhouses and repairing/replacing damaged raised beds
Many other great ideas came out of our small group workshops on the day. These included:
- installing an on-site generator
- creating an outdoor “living room”/safe space, with shade, easily accessible from the site entrance
- hosting more workshops on site, including craftivism, “raised bed to vase” and jam/chutney making
- building a hand washing station
- giving more external talks to raise our profile
- providing a menu of options for mentoring
- better signposting of toilet access
- providing a site diary to record experiences and jobs done
- install a wind vane
- use QR codes to provide more information on site
- forge links for local businesses (offering advertising in exchange for materials)
- provide volunteer viewpoints and before/after photos of projects for posting on social media
- a better on-site “honesty box” for produce sales.
Following the AGM we also received a very generous donation of £100 from long-time supporter of the community garden, Marcus Sparrow.
Over the past year, the majority of our income has come from grants which are tied to very specific projects. One-off donations such as this one, as well as regular standing orders, allow us the flexibility to fund development projects that do not attract grant funding.
If you would like to set up a monthly standing order or make a donation to support us, no matter how small the amount, please contact us at [email protected].
The trustees hope to implement many of the great suggestions our volunteers proposed at the AGM, and we will report on progress throughout the year here on the website as well as in our monthly newsletter.