Volunteers Annual General Gathering

In short – it’s going to be a busy year in which we work on making the garden more fabulous and practice various money making scheme.

We went over last year’s vital statistics , over 200 people volunteering, 13 community groups involved, 3 successful community events, over 100 pond dippers and £1200 pounds raised.  And of course 2 fab awards. Whoop!

Up and coming structural changes happenng to the site.  We’ll continue to build the raised beds.  The garden will have 10 new beds, there’ll be 4 or 5 starter beds for volunteers (if you’re interested get in touch!), and 5 beds set aside for community groups.  The area between the shelter and the shed has been earmarked for a kitchen and a herb garden.  How exactly these will  look have not is yet been decided!  All ideas and suggestions welome.  We plan to build a clay pizza oven (when it get warmer)  this may be part of the kitchen or not, some concerns were raised about its efficiency but it’ll mostly be for special occasions (Pizza on the plot fundraising nights!) .    The large mound by the container will hopefully be cleared and planted up with willow before it gets too warm which we’ll be using for weaving baskets etc and for sale in the future.  We still plan to build one or two jetties or accessible dipping platforms out into the pond.

Last December we got additional funding for two expensive plans.  We’ll be laying thick rubber ground stabilisation matting around the sleeper beds   to try to rise out of the horrid bog we’ve had their for the last year.  Lifting the woodchip and the teram has not made a jot of difference so let’s hope this work.

Pete’s solar pump plans are so innovative apparently no other allotment site is doing what we’re doing- I always knew he was a maverick!  So the they will be a large tank in our hole and another huge tank up at the top of the allotments.  The solar panels will power a pump which will pump the access water off our boggy site as well as ground water up to the top of the site and so when any allotment holder turns on the taps this water will be gravity fed down the hill! This will hopefully help keep our site dryer whilst potentially cutting down the allotment association’s water bills by hundreds of pounds!  Work on this will hopefully continue  and maybe even by the end of next week The Hole will be filled and the structure for the panels  built

Financial situation.  In March 2014 our current Local Food Fund (from the lottery) will finish.  The way that funding works means that we have to spend every penny by then and we can’t be frugal now and save it for later.  Last year because of mine and Pete’s naturally frugal inclinations we underspent and so had to quickly allocate the money or else the funders could have taken some back.  We hope to be spending that money on – increasing our capacity, improving the allotment infrastructure and exploring ways to make the project more financially sustainable.

We will be looking to more grant funding and I’ll need help will this so will have to be ‘evidencing impact’ – i.e getting in written form how ace the garden is and how is has an effect on people’s lives – so I’ll be getting EVERYONE to help with this.

In the WORSE CASE SCENARIO we don’t make any money and we don’t get any funding.  The  Wednesday’s would hopefully carry on run by volunteers but this means will have to spend this yeat becoming more resilient and self managing.  Even in this scenario I should still be involved working with groups the groups but it’s still healthy to plan for a Lucy-free world.  So we’re setting up a user group – anyone is welcome to get involved with this.  It will meet monthly at the garden to make decisions about matters that affect the Wednesday group. E.g Starter bed policy, T-shirt design, planning the fair, pricing up the veg for sale etc.

Idea for making money  this year.  We’ll be runninh a summer play scheme and we’re running workshops these don’t affect the Wednesday volunteers but I’d appreciate help promoting them, putting up posters etc.

Income streams that rely on volunteers  –  We’ll be selling a lot more stuff this year, starting outside the gate on a Wednesday selling to the parents coming out of the primary school and then once we’ve found our feet we’ll try a stall at the market on Pigsty Hill.  Another suggestion is to offer a gardening service to the allotment holders.  Once we’ve finished all the building on our site we could offer to build raised beds, move sheds install water butts for others, for cash.  This could be a good idea if we have LOADS of volunteers this summer

This year we’ll also be exploring a community composting scheme where gardener pay us o take their green waste, we turn it into compost and then sell it to plot holders ker-CHING!  Also work will be done on exploring the garden’s potential to provide a day services to people’s with additional support needs in a similar way that the city farms do.

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