The number of volunteer hours spent at Saunders Park Edible Garden has incredibly just reached over 1,000 hours. I noticed this whilst updating records of the activities there. I was delighted to see it – and it’s a remarkable feat seeing as both our community action days have coincided with snow, rain and gale force winds, none of which seems to put off the dedicated (and brave) volunteers who have turned up for these.
Meanwhile, our regular volunteers meet fortnightly to tend to the garden. They too are a hardy and dedicated bunch and are out in all weathers to improve the space. We’ve planted over 200 edible plants since starting work in the garden two years ago and have plans for adding even more in 2019, including an entire ‘edible hedgerow’.
Regular volunteers are treated to feedback and encouragement from local park users who stop to admire our work on their way through the park.
Earlier this year, a local resident named Sara shared with us:
“In the two and a half years I have used the park [for dog walks] I’ve seen the area transform from just an ordinary space to something that people want to come and sit amongst or partake in. It’s a real community project and all those beavering away making it happen are all so welcoming and always openly invite conversation about the latest vegetables that been planted.
“I am thoroughly enjoying the continual growth of this space as it flourishes and to have this on my doorstop is truly wonderful.”
Steph, a local resident, stopped by in early summer to say:
“When I moved here, I noticed the community garden starting and feel so lucky to live close by. When my family and friends visit, I bring them here. It’s got a lovely community feel and it feels nice knowing the garden is being maintained and looked after.”
And a third regular park user said:
“I walk past almost every day on the way to my allotment and love to see how this little space has been transformed. People stop to admire the pond and the plants or enjoy eating their lunch at the picnic bench. The atmosphere is so different from previous years. Thanks for the team effort.”
I feel very proud that the progress of the garden has been acknowledged and rewarded both locally and nationally. We received a Bronze Award in the South and Southeast in Bloom competition this year and were also a finalist in the national Groundwork Community awards last year.
Our support volunteer Beth has also received an Annual Citizens Award from the Rotary Club. I couldn’t run the group without the help of Beth who supports others in the group and helps with so much behind the scenes.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and observations on how the edible garden has changed and impacted Saunders Park. Please share them with us! Or if you’d like to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.