Hosting our first Open Day at Pencoed Community Garden feels like a huge milestone. It's something we've talked about for a long time - sharing our approach and encouraging others to do the same. Then again, it's another to actually plan and do it.
The first thing that runs through your mind is, will anyone come? Will they be interested in what we have to say...come to think of it, what do we have to say?
Luckily, the Social Farms & Gardens network provided a useful template for how to plan such an event, in co-ordination with their national #haveagrowday. They provided plenty of ideas, and free media resources to boot. And once we stopped to think about it, there was plenty to say.
Alongside the obligatory Plant Stall and delicious tea and cake stand, we opted to include 'Garden Tours' (to showcase how we operate and the efficiency gains of working collectively) and 'Compost Workshops' (to share knowledge of the skills we have learned).
By any measure it was a great success. More than 100 people came to see us and donated generously to our garden funds, and it was a pleasure to witness their surprise at times.
"This really is inspiring," I heard one lady gasp, when she heard the explanation for why we don't use an allotment system. Gardening without boundaries of 'yours' vs. 'mine' is a radical leap in polite circles.
Many visitors were interested in hearing more about the 'No Dig' approach, or simply just came for a nose, but there were a few who came to talk practicalities. These were the ones trying to set up a similar project in their own area. Our biggest reward would be to see these groups grow and prosper. For them alone, it would be worth hosting a hundred more Open Days because they provide the greatest hope.
There's no doubt about the increasing level of interest in soil friendly, organic methods, but it is the interest in community partnerships that matters most. So how can we encourage that? Maybe next year we will invite a few decision makers and land-owners along with the express intention of asking: What can you do now to make this more of a reality for your community? How can you help? Because we need to see more support, more commitment, and more opportunities for groups to grow collectively like ours. Be inspired. Be brave. Be part of the future.