Slades Farm Community Garden

The Slades Farm Community Garden is a community project initiated by Transition Bournemouth, which aims to foster a sustainable and wildlife friendly garden, and carry out conservation activities, in the Slades Farm area in Ensbury Park. This project was supported by Sustainable Food City as part of their campaign to improve access to Healthy Food, Nutrition and Community Food Growing.

What is the background to your project and where are your now?

Slades Farm Community Garden is a volunteer-led project in a local urban park supported by Transition Bournemouth and Bournemouth Council. The aim is to promote sustainability in the guise of a friendly and accessible wildlife gardening project which anyone and everyone can join in with.

Slades Farm Community garden has been running since 2012 . There are regular work parties engaging in activities varying according to both the season and the weather, ranging from gigantic projects like pond-digging and making fences to gentle activities like sowing seeds (and of course harvesting!). Slades Farm Community Garden also hosts Green Play which gives under 5s wild garden learning through play experiences, and hosts volunteer sessions for BU students from all faculties.

What are your plans for this project?

In the short term, we plan to complete a water capture system with our toolshed using donated and recycled materials wherever possible, and we want to create a bog garden next to our pond. In the autumn 2015 we will be planting trees and shrubs around the perimeter of the pond.

Subject to funding, in winter 2015/16 we would like to plant more fruit trees and bushes, more native wildlfowers and more perennial vegetables.

We will also plan and deliver a number of community engagement projects to encourage the local community to get more involved.

In the longer term, we would like to do more educational projects with children and adults – including practical activities e.g. hurdling, making bird boxes, meadow management (scything) as well as more academic outdoor learning e.g. permaculture design.

For the dates of our activities, please see the Slades Farm Transition Town website.

How are you going to achieve those plans?

Slades Farm Community Garden has funding for community engagement from SUSTAIN, The Earth Charter and Sustainable Bournemouth Partnership. We hope to extend the capacity of the group as a result of the engagement activities so that we can apply for more funding to deliver further projects.

How are you going to measure your successes?

People, Wildlife, Utility

People: We capture information about our volunteer sessions. E.g. in 2014 there were150 individual people who each volunteered at least once. There were 55 work sessions in the year, and overall, around 1000 volunteer hours were contributed to the project.

Wildlife: We also plan to improve our ability to do regular wildlife surveys. One of our objectives is to increase biodiversity.

Utility: this is about the useful [to humans] stuff the garden produces e.g. fruit and veg and timber for fencing. To track this we would need to start monitoring what we put in (e.g. manure, seeds, plants, as well as weighing what we get out.

What resources do you have? What meterials, money and peoples time (both paid and voluntary) are you using?

We have 10,000m2 of scrub land. Where we are cultivating, the soil is fertile. We have a toolshed and tools and a core of 4 people who can lead sessions, one of whom is the main organizer. All time is volunteered. The project generates a small income from Green Play, but not enough to be sustainable if labour had to be paid for. Everything has been either donated or funded externally.

Who is involved in your project? Who has led your project and which other partners are involved?

Slades Farm Community Garden was initiated by Transition Bournemouth, and is supported by the following :-

BCVS, BNSS, Bournemouth Council, BU, Cherry Tree Nursery, Dorset Land Network, the Friends of Slades Farm, Permaculture Association, Project Dirt, Sustainable Food City Partnership.

Who has benfited from your project and how?

This Garden has not only brought our local community together into a shared project with shared outcomes, but has also visually improved the surrounding area, something appreciatively noticed by locals and dog walkers alike. Individuals who have helped out at the garden have also then been motivated to spend time in their own gardens at home.

Having an active community garden project in the park has also contributed towards the park’s Green Flag, which it won in 2014.

What are the main elements that have influenced the success of your project and what have your main challenges been?

The commitment of the core supporters, Transition Bournemouth and the Council has been key. The project would benefit from more time being spent on organisation, communication, and fundraising, and a regular gardener doing maintenance tasks for a couple of hours, a couple of days each week.

Has there been any added value from working with the Sustainable Food City Partnership for Bournemouth and Poole?

Working with the Sustainable Food City Partnership has increased our awareness of other initiatives operating across Bournemouth and Poole.

How would you rate your progress?

We are thrilled to have made Very Good Progress!

Was this project established prior to the commencement of the Sustainable Food Cities Partnership?