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Community
Green Spaces
An Eden Project Field Guide to
Tony Kendle
Tony Kendle started his horticulture career in Southend Parks Department. After
studying at the University of ...
Community
Green Spaces
An Eden Project Field Guide to
Tony Kendle, Jane Knight,
and Jane Stoneham
3
4
Introduction	4
Why do it? The value of community green spaces	 6
Ways to get involved with green spaces	 12
Different type...
6
Introduction
A community green space is a garden or area of land designed
to benefit the whole community. It is about infl...
8
Why do it?
The value of
community
green spaces
Taking responsibility for a piece of land for the
benefit of the whole comm...
Taking on an unloved patch of land and turning it into a community
green space sends an important message to everyone in y...
Well-planned green spaces offer neutral ground where people of
different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and cultures can me...
Wanting to do something for children is often cited as a reason
creating or acquiring a green space – and green spaces can...
Community green spaces can provide an opportunity to learn new
skills. As well as practical horticulture and landscape ski...
Garden
to Share
:)
Land
not in
use
14
Ways to get involved
with green spaces
Getting a green space going can be a bit daunting,
but there are lots of ways you c...
Community green spaces aren’t just about
horticulture, but if you want to get gardening
there is a wealth of information o...
Garden
to Share
:)
Landshare is an initiative established by Hugh
Fearnley-Whittingstall to connect growers with
people wi...
Land
not in
use
Another way to get involved in green space
activities, without the commitment of finding or
managing a spa...
Photo © SC Smith Creative Commons
Boscawen Park
A good example of a community working
with the local authority to revitalise
a local, urban fringe park. The...
Photo © Heidi Morgan
22
Different types
of community
green space
Every neighbourhood is different. Don’t be put off
if there isn’t an obvious patc...
24
With austerity cuts many patches of land previously managed
by local authorities are being abandoned, and adoption by the
...
Union Street Urban Orchard
Go to Union Street in Southwark today and all you’ll
see is a concrete yard beside a railway li...
Photo © SC Smith Creative Commons
Allotments are already a kind of community garden, but they are
generally divided into plots which are rented and worked o...
Community orchards can bring a community together. They are great
places for celebrations or school visits, and offer habi...
Graveyards don’t often feature on lists of green spaces, but in recent
years interest has grown in these overlooked resour...
Photo © Jane Knight
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Every week, community
organisation Grounded Ecotherapy
work in Tower Hamlets Cemetery
Park, on...
Many farmers are interested in diversifying from conventional forms
of agriculture, and this presents an increasing number...
Making a community project in a hospital or other healthcare setting
offers real benefits to people who most need them – p...
Royal Edinburgh
Community Gardens
There is a long history of hospital
gardening, one that the Chair of
NHS Lothian drew on...
Yum Yum Yum
Yum Yum Yum
Community green spaces don’t have to be large open spaces – if
there is a shortage of land then sm...
If you’re short of space, flat roof surfaces can make great green spaces,
but there are two critical technical issues that...
2
Schools are natural centres in communities. Many have under-
utilised landscapes because they lack the resources to deve...
4
5
6
7
10
8
9
Plans may develop through informal discussions but it is important to
develop a documented agreement with t...
Edgelands are found on the outskirts of towns and tend to be
a random mix of industrial sites of different sizes, canals a...
Such sites are often surrounded by large areas of underused
land that could be made more use of. This can include hard
sta...
Woodlands and forests are generally among the larger community
green spaces, and often require specialist skills to manage...
Perfect!
Just right!
Look hard enough and you’ll see that cities and towns are full of gap
sites – neglected spaces where ...
© Marchmont Community Garden
Marchmont Community Garden
When a proposed site for key worker
housing was deemed too small for
development, local residen...
48
Ten steps for
creating a
community
green space
There are no set rules to developing a community
green space project, but t...
If you are setting up a green space from scratch, you need
to get organised.
Set up a Working Group – it should include pe...
Photo © Naomi Schillinger
51
There are lots of different options out there, so it’s a good idea
to go and talk to people who have set up a green space ...
Have a look at some examples of
open questions:
	What would you like to
get rid of?
	What do you like about the place?
	Wh...
Photo © Camley Street © Kate Symonds
It’s important to understand your site fully before you plan
anything in detail. Start by recording what’s already there i...
Although great ideas often start off on the back of an envelope
or scribbled on a napkin (like the Eden Project) you will ...
Working with a designer on a plan can save a lot of time and provide
easy shortcuts for your project. Some designers only ...
Also consider less costly alternatives which may, perhaps in
combination with traditional play equipment, provide more int...
Photo © Eden Project
It’s essential to get the right approvals and permission to
develop a site at the outset – and that includes your initial
...
There is more advice on finding and acquiring land on the Community
Land Advisory Service (CLAS) website, by country, incl...
Photo © Helene Rudlin
A lot of effort and thought can go into making a plan but the
most important thing is to make something happen.
Changing o...
You don’t have to have money to make a project work, but it
can make a big difference. It’s not just a question of getting...
New developments have an obligation to contribute to the wider
infrastructure of the community, including schools and open...
It might seem obvious, but celebrating everyone’s
achievements is an essential part of any community project.
Celebrations...
Photo © Jane Knight
Abundance – Grow Sheffield
Abundance was established by Grow Sheffield
with the idea of seeing the city as a giant orchard...
Photo © Grow Sheffield
All of this effort is for a purpose – if you’ve planned it properly
and everyone is still excited about it, then you won’t...
Community green space projects are about the long haul if
they’re to make a real difference. A pop-up can invigorate a
com...
grub
games
chairs
loos
fire
72
Great green
space features
Community green spaces are as much about people
as plants or wildlife, so it’s important to pla...
Not all of these features will be appropriate for your community
green space, and you should do some further research befo...
75
The more accessible your green space is, the wider its appeal.
More people will use it if you take account of their divers...
Sharing information is a chance to uplift, intrigue and inspire. Every
garden needs some written information but people of...
Seating is one of the most important and most overlooked features
in landscape design. Seats make a space comfortable for ...
Access to toilets and changing facilities is crucial. If you don’t have
scope to include toilets as part of your plans it ...
Your green spaces could include sports pitches, tennis courts,
bowling greens, basketball courts, ping-pong tables or a sa...
Build dens from woodland trimmings.
	Create simple water play with guttering and hosepipe.
	Make waterslides with a hosepi...
Making it sociable
Cooking and eating together are essential elements of community-
building. This could mean including op...
84
Sometimes people just want to be alone or socialise in small groups.
Providing quiet spots to relax, chat, sunbathe or pic...
Making it grow
Growing food can be a really rewarding way to use a community
green space. It offers a reason for people to...
87
A forest garden is a method of producing food that is also beneficial
to wildlife, through the planting of fruit- and/or n...
Forest gardens are intended to be self-supporting systems, with
the plants themselves providing the nutrients for plant gr...
Community gardens can offer great habitats for wildlife, especially
insects and birds. The key elements are rich layers of...
Keeping any form of livestock is a major commitment and shouldn’t
be taken lightly. The welfare of the animals has to take...
Camley Street Natural Park,
Kings Cross, London
One of the best-known examples
of derelict land transformed into a
green o...
Photo © Kate Symonds
Making it sustainable
Bike racks, or at least something you can securely lock a bike to, are
an easy way to encourage peop...
Having secure storage facilities for equipment is essential – portable
seating, shade, and things you need for events will...
96
Creative ideas
to bring your
green space to life
A programme of events and activities will encourage
people to use the spa...
Tie ribbons and pom-poms to a tree for no reason other than to
make people smile. Make the tree dressing an event – get ev...
Film nights are very easy to organise these days with relatively
affordable projectors that can run from a laptop or smart...
100
You can plant a permanent tree or install a stand for cut
trees, either way it provides the opportunity for people
to deco...
Music is rarely found in green spaces but there is no reason why it
shouldn’t be – you can create a makeshift bandstand fr...
Scarecrow competitions
Some areas already have a tradition of making scarecrows, but
you could take it up a level by invit...
104
Conclusion
Green spaces are vital to the health and wellbeing
of our communities, so you can be sure that if you
decided t...
Eden Field Guide series
Maria Devereaux
and Clare Horrell
Stuart Spurring
and Jane
Stoneham
Dave Chapman
Bran Howell
Wendy...
Community green space projects
can transform communities for the
better, improving health and wellbeing,
creating stronger...
 An Eden Project Field Guide to green spaces
 An Eden Project Field Guide to green spaces
 An Eden Project Field Guide to green spaces
 An Eden Project Field Guide to green spaces
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An Eden Project Field Guide to green spaces

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Community green space projects can transform communities for the better, improving health and wellbeing, creating stronger social networks, and making a positive impact on environmental issues. This publication takes you through the benefits and offers guidance on the different types of green space projects you can do and how to get started. It was published by the Eden Project as part of its Big Lunch Extras programme. Find out more at www.biglunchextras.com

Published in: Environment
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An Eden Project Field Guide to green spaces

  1. 1. Community Green Spaces An Eden Project Field Guide to
  2. 2. Tony Kendle Tony Kendle started his horticulture career in Southend Parks Department. After studying at the University of Bath he worked on revegetating china clay mines in Cornwall. Then he taught horticulture and community horticulture at the University of Reading and this led to a key role at the Eden Project developing the technology for creating the garden as part of the early development team. Now he works on new project development and teaches on Eden’s horticulture courses. Jane Knight Jane joined the Eden Team in 2002, eighteen months after the Eden Project opened. As in-house landscape architect, she works on the on-going development of the enclosed biomes, outdoor gardens and wider estate. Jane also leads on many of Eden’s varied outreach and consultancy projects including a Peace Park in Kosovo, mine restoration in South Africa and, most recently, new initiatives in China and the Middle East. Wherever possible, she creates places where children and young people can be actively engaged in the natural world. Prior to Eden, Jane was Director of a landscape architecture practice in Hong Kong and also worked in the UK, USA and Australia. Jane Stoneham Jane Stoneham is Director of the Sensory Trust. With a background in social horticulture, Jane’s work has focused on how people of all ages and abilities can be engaged, challenged and revitalised by their environment. Early involvement with the development of the Eden Project led to the building of a close partnership between Eden and the Sensory Trust. Publications include Landscape Design for Elderly and Disabled People, Making Connections: a guide to accessible greenspace design and Historic England’s Easy Access to Historic Landscapes. About the authors Eden Project Publications Published by Eden Project Publications © 2015. Designed by Judy Caley and Paul Barrett. Edited by Robert Lowe, Juliet Rose and Mike Petty. Additional text on Forest gardens by Emma Pilgrim, University of Exeter. This book has been produced for the Big Lunch Extras programme — the Eden Project’s way of supporting and enabling people to become more active within their communities and deliver the social change they want to see. 2
  3. 3. Community Green Spaces An Eden Project Field Guide to Tony Kendle, Jane Knight, and Jane Stoneham 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Introduction 4 Why do it? The value of community green spaces 6 Ways to get involved with green spaces 12 Different types of community green space 20 Ten steps for creating a community green space 46 Great green space features 70 Creative ideas to bring your green space to life 94 Conclusion 102 Contents 5
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. Introduction A community green space is a garden or area of land designed to benefit the whole community. It is about influence and control, a place that is managed (and maybe owned) by ‘us,’ not ‘them’. Throughout history people have had a close working relationship with the land. It is only in modern industrialised societies that we have lost that close bond; many of us can now live our entire lives without needing to dig soil or plant a tree. Recently, communities have begun to reassert their need and right to have access to land in the face of growing corporate enclosure and local authoritiy ownership that fails to address the genuine needs of their population. Community gardening needs careful thought. What are these spaces for? The word community has its roots in the Latin communitas, which translates as ‘joint possession or use’; this tells us that the essence of the idea is mutual support and relationships, not just a common geography. People living near each other are not a community unless they also share with one another. The Eden Project’s Big Lunch is based on this principle – encouraging people to gather together and share food, and also to share the organisation of the event. Increasingly there is evidence that, following on from this, new community activities take place and social isolation begins to break down. This is the key produce from a community garden. At its root, it exists to strengthen bonds, to give people a focus to get to know and support each other. Knowing this brings subtle changes to the way things are done, where the goal is to grow a flower, a fruit, a conversation, a smile, or trust. Tony Kendle 7
  8. 8. 8
  9. 9. Why do it? The value of community green spaces Taking responsibility for a piece of land for the benefit of the whole community is a significant undertaking. There are lots of benefits to setting up a community green space, but it’s really important to work out what you want to achieve and why. 9
  10. 10. Taking on an unloved patch of land and turning it into a community green space sends an important message to everyone in your community, and the people who visit it: we care about where we live. A sense of shared purpose and pride in your neighbourhood can improve its reputation and make it a more desirable place to live, but its impact is more than just cosmetic. Green spaces can also help offset some of the impact of climate change. They store carbon through plants and trees – and trees can also help to reduce the urban heat island (UHI) effect, which can have an adverse effect on air and water quality. And it’s not just people who benefit from green spaces – they are home to all sorts of birds, insects and other creatures, increasing the biodiversity of an area. Caring for the local environment 10
  11. 11. Well-planned green spaces offer neutral ground where people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and cultures can meet and share experiences and knowledge. This can help reduce social isolation and really bring people together. Your green space might begin as a blank slate (or a very overgrown one) but if local people are encouraged to take ownership of it, it will become a vital part of your community’s infrastructure. It can be used for all sorts of activities, from training sessions to celebrations, from wild play to yoga – the choice is yours. Enhancing community cohesion 11
  12. 12. Wanting to do something for children is often cited as a reason creating or acquiring a green space – and green spaces can offer much more than just a place for play equipment. They can provide young people with somewhere to hang out and socialise. They can also give people who don’t have gardens a chance to sit outside, socialise or garden together. The key aim is to create places that people of all ages and abilities can use and enjoy. Improving facilities and opportunities 12
  13. 13. Community green spaces can provide an opportunity to learn new skills. As well as practical horticulture and landscape skills, many green space projects will require project management skills such as planning, the ability to budget, and work collaboratively. On a big project you might not need to hire anybody; you might find someone with these skills is already on your team. Other less obvious skills you might need include public speaking, which many people find daunting but generally gets easier over time; and you’ll need patience and attention to detail to understand how local government works. A green space project is also a great opportunity to find ‘buried treasure’: relevant skills and knowledge that people in your community already have. A good way to find out what people already know and can do is to hold a ‘skills audit’. This could take the form of a survey (paper, online or both), or just a board on which people can scribble what they can contribute. Remember, it’s not always the loudest people who have the most to offer, so find a way to ensure that anyone who is interested can volunteer – a Facebook page, say, or an email address for the project. There are some things that you will need a professional for – so if you don’t have one in your group consider asking a lawyer or an architect for some pro bono (free) help. Don’t expect unlimited pro bono support, but it’s a good place to start. If you get positive publicity for your project, you might be able to use that to help promote them in return. Above all, the ability to get on with other people and see their point of view will stand you in good stead on any community project. Learn new skills and find hidden talents 13
  14. 14. Garden to Share :) Land not in use 14
  15. 15. Ways to get involved with green spaces Getting a green space going can be a bit daunting, but there are lots of ways you can test the water and get involved without having to make a huge commitment. You can also gain insight into some of the requirements and decide whether to start up your own project. 15
  16. 16. Community green spaces aren’t just about horticulture, but if you want to get gardening there is a wealth of information on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website; there’s a postcode finder that will hook you up with groups in your community. It will help you work out how you can volunteer and use your skills to transform local areas into horticultural havens to be proud of. www.rhs.org.uk/communities In 2009, Garden Organic set up a Master Gardener programme to provide local advice and support to people and communities interested in growing food. There are now groups of Master Gardeners around the country who inspire people to grow food, help remove barriers that prevent people from growing, and offer support with growing skills. If you love gardening and would like to share your skills and interest, this is a great initiative. www.mastergardeners.org.uk If you are keen on exercise, why not join one of The Conservation Volunteers’ (TCV) Green Gyms® which operate around the UK? Green Gyms are fun and free outdoor exercise sessions in which you can get involved in practical activities such as planting trees, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds. Unlike other conservation projects, the emphasis is very much on health and fitness – volunteers warm up and cool down in preparation for a range of light to vigorous activities to suit all abilities. www.tcv.org.uk/greengym Hook up with like-minded gardeners in your community Become a Master Gardener Join a Green Gym 16
  17. 17. Garden to Share :) Landshare is an initiative established by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to connect growers with people with land to share – gardens as well as fields. Many elderly people find their gardens too difficult to look after as they get older and would like people to help with them. Garden shares are also a great way to also help with their isolation and loneliness. www.landshare.net You may not have to look far to find a suitable green space. Many local authorities own under- utilised and unloved areas, empty except for a play park. These green deserts are often managed and maintained by sub-contractors without reference to the surrounding community’s needs and wishes. They can also become focal points for antisocial activity which can put people off from using or even passing through them. Setting up an informal ‘Friends of…’ organisation that takes an interest in the maintenance and use of a green space can be a good way to determine how much interest there is in such a project without having to find a plot of land and work out who owns it or how to acquire it. You’ll need to decide on the purpose of the group collectively - is it a pressure group for improvements, a fundraising group or just volunteers helping out with the maintenance and upkeep, organising litter picks and events? It’s also a good idea to contact the local authority first and tell them you are planning to set this up, they often prove valuable allies. Some local authorities are keen to divest themselves of the responsibility of maintenance, so your community could end up running a green space under contract, or even owning it as a community asset. Join Landshare Take care of an existing green space 17
  18. 18. Land not in use Another way to get involved in green space activities, without the commitment of finding or managing a space, is to enter Britain in Bloom. Run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Britain in Bloom sees over 1,600 communities of all sizes take part every year. It’s been running for over 50 years, so there is a fair amount of competition out there. You start by taking part in regional and national competitions before working up to Britain in Bloom itself. It’s a bit of a commitment but it’s a good way to instil pride in a place and people often rally to something that is already recognised. It doesn’t have to be about prettifying a place or winning first prize if you don’t want it to be – you can make as quirky as the place you live in. See the RHS website for further details of the competition and the support they provide. www.rhs.org.uk/communities/campaigns/britain-in-bloom A lot of land sits empty awaiting development and this can be a chance to negotiate use in the short term. If you’re lucky you might find land where the developer decides not to build for a while or at all. Meanwhile Gardens in Hammersmith (one of the first examples of vibrant community garden developments in the UK) and Camley Street Nature Reserve near King’s Cross are two examples where the occupants did not surrender the land to the landowners as per the original agreement and new agreements were reached amicably. Developers are now warier of these deals but it can still be worth exploring options, especially if you just want to see if other community members are interested in a green space project. See The Meanwhile Foundation website for more information. www.meanwhile.org.uk Britain in Bloom ‘Meanwhile’ use 18
  19. 19. Photo © SC Smith Creative Commons
  20. 20. Boscawen Park A good example of a community working with the local authority to revitalise a local, urban fringe park. The Friends of Boscawen Park in Truro organised community consultation, developed a fundraising programme that secured £100,000 from the local authority and £100,000 of landfill tax for new play and infrastructure developments, and attracted professional design input. The park opened to a very enthusiastic and appreciative community in July 2015. www.facebook.com/boscawenpark
  21. 21. Photo © Heidi Morgan
  22. 22. 22
  23. 23. Different types of community green space Every neighbourhood is different. Don’t be put off if there isn’t an obvious patch of wasteland on your doorstep that’s ripe to be transformed. It’s not all about having acres of land. Somewhere small at the heart of your community could be a better bet than a huge patch of land on the outskirts that is poorly served by public transport. Take a tour of your neighbourhood and explore the options. 23
  24. 24. 24
  25. 25. With austerity cuts many patches of land previously managed by local authorities are being abandoned, and adoption by the community can be the only way to preserve them in reasonable shape, or to improve them. If you’ve started a Friends of… type of group to support the local park, a contract to maintain or manage it could be the next logical step. Areas of land that continue to be owned and managed by the local authority, or another organisation, might also be available for community use, although this will inevitably involve negotiations to agree sharing of responsibilities and use. Many parks contain important trees and historic elements that must be carefully preserved. Taking control can also mean taking responsibility for them. This might mean being legally liable for their upkeep, so factor insurance and regular tree inspections into any budgeting you do. Whilst some local authorities have failed to see the benefits of working more closely with their local communities, others believe that involving communities in the management of parks helps to ensure they reflect local needs and makes them more sustainable in the long-term. For example, in Bristol there are around 30 community park groups that take an active role in the management and improvement of their local parks. The council have even produced a Community Action Toolkit to make it easier for people to get involved. www.bristol.gov.uk/page/leisure-and-culture/get-involved-parks Parks and public open spaces 25
  26. 26. Union Street Urban Orchard Go to Union Street in Southwark today and all you’ll see is a concrete yard beside a railway line. But if you’d passed by in 2010, you’d have seen a very different sight: fruit trees. Created in just six weeks by an organisation of designer-makers led by Heather Ring, the Union Street Urban Orchard was built by over 100 volunteers, who picked up new skills in carpentry and horticulture along the way. The result was a pop-up orchard and a key feature of the Festival of Architecture. The orchard was home to 85 fruit trees and host to workshops and discussions - as well as a zero-carbon pod that was occupied throughout the project. As soon as the fruit was harvested, the orchard was dismantled and the trees distributed to community gardens and local estates, providing a real and lasting legacy for the project.
  27. 27. Photo © SC Smith Creative Commons
  28. 28. Allotments are already a kind of community garden, but they are generally divided into plots which are rented and worked on by individuals rather than collectively. There are usually limits to what can be done with the plots or on the site depending on the allotment association you belong to. There are around 340,000 allotment plots in the UK. Most allotments are managed by the local authority, though there are over 8,000 owned by parish or town councils. There’s estimated to be around 90,000 people on allotment waiting-lists across the country. Local authorities outside of London are legally obliged to find space for allotments. All you need is to get six people who are on the electoral register – registered for council tax – to write a letter requesting allotments. However, although the councils are legally obliged to provide land there is no set timescale for this, which is one reason for the long waiting lists. If you live in London then unfortunately your council has no obligation to provide allotments. Wherever you live, if your council can’t or won’t oblige you could always approach a private landowner or another organisation, such as the Church of England, and ask if they are willing to rent space for allotments. Allotment soil may be in good condition, but it is likely to have a large weed bank. In many cases water supply and vehicle access already exist, although a power supply is less common. Allotments can be friendly and generous places, so if you want a more structured kind of green space but one that has a sense of community, an allotment might be one way forward. Allotments National Allotment Society - www.nsalg.org.uk UK Gov Apply for an allotment - www.gov.uk/apply-allotment Further reading and resources 28
  29. 29. Community orchards can bring a community together. They are great places for celebrations or school visits, and offer habitats for wildlife, wildflowers and bees. If you don’t have a piece of land available you could try establishing them on verges, roundabouts and roadsides, or consider a dispersed model using local people’s gardens. Two-thirds of the UK’s orchards have been lost since 1960, so a community orchard can help reverse this trend. Faster results can be achieved by using trees and soft fruit that is already cropping – there is a good range now available from nurseries and garden centres. Community orchards UK Government advice on orchards www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/5908/19732401.pdf Urban Orchard Project - www.theurbanorchardproject.org Common Ground www.commonground.org.uk/projects/orchards/community-orchards Further reading and resources 29
  30. 30. Graveyards don’t often feature on lists of green spaces, but in recent years interest has grown in these overlooked resources. Some sites contain very old trees or patches of woodland and even remnant grassland, and already lend themselves to being managed as nature reserves and havens for wildlife. Some are managed for cultural reasons, for example Highgate Cemetery in London is managed by a Trust and receives lots of visitors each year because of its gothic setting and the famous people buried there. Churchyards are rarely used for food growing or other community activities but making an approach to the church or the parish council which cares for it can’t hurt. Disturbance to plots must be minimised and access to graves maintained, so the most successful uses will often be light-touch activities that can be dispersed around the site, such as bee-keeping. Many of our towns have suffered because of competition from ‘out of town’ shopping and it is now widely accepted that town centres need to re-invent themselves as attractive places to live, work and play as well as shop. Street trees, upgrading planting areas and floral displays are a popular way to get involved in a community planting initiative. If your town has a BID (Business Improvement District), this would be a good place to start. Local traders pay a levy to the BID and this is used for improvements such as floral displays and Christmas lights. Church grounds and graveyards 30
  31. 31. Photo © Jane Knight
  32. 32. Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park Every week, community organisation Grounded Ecotherapy work in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries. No one has been buried in the cemetery since 1966, and the Friends and volunteers have been improving this special site for people and for nature, and dealing progressively with the legacy of decades of neglect. The Friends manage the park on behalf of LBTH Parks. Cemetery Park is an official Local Nature Reserve as well as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. www.fothcp.org Photo © Allen V Morris
  33. 33. Many farmers are interested in diversifying from conventional forms of agriculture, and this presents an increasing number of opportunities for community initiatives. More remote areas of farmland are unlikely to lend themselves to being a community resource, but edgeland fields or farms swallowed by the urban sprawl are prime sites for gardens and city farms. This kind of land will inevitably come with a heavy ‘weed bank’ and possibly a residue of pesticides, which will be particularly significant if you are planning to grow organic food on the land. Access will often be poor with limited infrastructure of paths, water, power, toilets and parking, so these often need to be included in new plans. But all these problems can be solved with time and fundraising. Farmland 34
  34. 34. Making a community project in a hospital or other healthcare setting offers real benefits to people who most need them – patients, families and staff dealing with challenging situations. These sites often have spare land but it may only be available short-term – hospitals are notorious for sudden changes of plans, and the land you have in mind may suddenly be required for new car parks and buildings. A safer option might be to adopt an area of a site that’s difficult to build on, a nature area for example. Negotiating access with the NHS can be challenging so it’s best to find an enthusiastic insider with sufficient authority to make decisions who can help steer you through. Health Centres and hospital grounds 35
  35. 35. Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens There is a long history of hospital gardening, one that the Chair of NHS Lothian drew on when he invited the Federation of Farms and City Gardeners to discuss how some of the 15-acre grounds of Royal Edinburgh Hospital could be turned into a community garden. A three-acre piece of derelict ground was selected and a steering group made up of NHS officers and local community groups began developing the brief. As well as places to grow, they allocated space for a woodland walk and a forest garden. The garden is now well-established and open three days a week. Over 20 community groups have been involved and thousands of volunteer hours clocked up. It’s not just local people who take care of the garden – former patients at the hospital regularly come and lend a hand. www.cyrenians.scot Photo © P Stevens, Cyrenians
  36. 36. Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum Community green spaces don’t have to be large open spaces – if there is a shortage of land then smaller pockets of land, people’s gardens or even individual trees can be networked into a dispersed green space for growing. This kind of approach can still have a strong sense of community, especially if everyone is growing the same things and everyone pools what they’ve harvested to make something. You could follow the example of Cardiff Hops and get people growing hops in their back gardens and work with a brewery to produce beer, or all grow and harvest the same fruit or vegetables to make a local jam or chutney. See the Eden Field Guide to Community Food Projects for more details. Dispersed community gardens 38
  37. 37. If you’re short of space, flat roof surfaces can make great green spaces, but there are two critical technical issues that have to be solved before they are safe to use. The first issue is that most roofs are not designed to carry significant weight – not even people, let alone wet soil in heavy planters. One solution (following a structural survey) is to locate them over load-bearing parts of the roof, such as above pillars. Another option that the University of Bath developed successfully is the use of ultra- light planters. The second major technical challenge is adequate waterproofing to prevent structural damage to the buildings. With an increased interest in roof gardening there is now a range of effective membrane systems on the market. Access to roofs for machinery and heavy soil can be difficult; the best roof gardens are designed and built at the same time as the building. Parapets and edges obviously need to be carefully reviewed, as do fire risks and emergency access procedures. There are many planters available to buy – but check weight and drainage first. Rooftops 39
  38. 38. 2 Schools are natural centres in communities. Many have under- utilised landscapes because they lack the resources to develop them into outdoor learning spaces, and most are not used at weekends, evenings and holidays. A community garden can be a good way to make use of the land. The safety of the children and the security of the school will be primary concerns, and an important early step will be to find out how this might affect how you use the grounds. You need to find out when there is access, and if it is limited to outside school hours. You may need to follow the school’s safety procedures and participants might be required to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (this has replaced the old Criminal Records Bureau check). Logistics are also important, like access to water, toilets, storage for tools and materials and scope for vehicles to deliver and pick up. It’s important to check accessibility for disabled participants. If you are planning to share the space with the school, it is a good idea to agree how you will share growing space, expenditure, produce and responsibility for upkeep. Aim for community activities that will not disrupt school activities or cause complications with school security. While a school garden may involve local people as volunteers, a school community garden goes further and actively engages local people in its planning, development and day-to-day work. A school may be happy to release part of its grounds for use solely by your community group. Alternatively, you could develop something together and harness the benefits of building closer links between the school and its wider community. Making plans School grounds 40
  39. 39. 4 5 6 7 10 8 9 Plans may develop through informal discussions but it is important to develop a documented agreement with the school in case the people involved or circumstances change. Explore options for funding, ideally in collaboration with the school, governors and parent bodies whose links with local companies and organisations can help with donation of materials, money and time. There may be Department of Education funds for schools to extend use of their estates by community groups. See the Eden Field Guide to Working with Young People for further advice on working with schools. 41
  40. 40. Edgelands are found on the outskirts of towns and tend to be a random mix of industrial sites of different sizes, canals and abandoned or derelict land. Sites are usually in private or public ownership but have the advantage that access is often easy if the land can be bought. Power and water supply are often limited and the land may be polluted or low grade, and perhaps infested with ragwort and knotweed so careful clearance may be required. Community groups around the world have created gardens and even city farms as a result of negotiating access and squeezing into the tiny and awkwardly shaped pockets of land alongside railway lines. In the UK, National Rail own the ‘permanent way’ – the land, the track bed and the fixtures such as the railway track etc. They also own related land for which they are legally responsible, but generally have no real interest in managing or maintaining. These areas, often scrubby after years of neglect and clearance, will take some hard work. Obviously nothing is allowed on this land that will threaten safety of the users or the passing trains – so no bonfires! There is a Community Scheme organised by Network Rail that provides an opportunity for local groups to improve disused and neglected land – old platforms, land by stations etc. Alongside railway tracks Edgelands 42
  41. 41. Such sites are often surrounded by large areas of underused land that could be made more use of. This can include hard standing and rooftops. Security will be a primary concern for owners, and this will need careful negotiation, especially if you need access out of working hours. Commercial and industrial land Network Rail: www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/5847.aspx Edgeland Projects: www.swindonbackgarden.wordpress.com www.skillnetgroup.co.uk/socialbusiness/pages/gardeningproject.php Further reading and resources 43
  42. 42. Woodlands and forests are generally among the larger community green spaces, and often require specialist skills to manage. But plenty of communities have taken on the challenge. In Scotland, the majority of the 200 community-owned forests have been purchased from the Scottish Forestry Commission. In England and Wales, they have mostly been bought directly from landowners and run as social enterprises, but a few, like Raincliffe Woods in Scarborough, have been acquired by a community asset transfer from the local authority. Managing woodlands is a challenge but they have a lot to offer. Community-owned woodlands can provide walking and mountain bike trails, as well as training opportunities in traditional woodland crafts, and income from managing the timber. Woodlands and biodiversity areas 44
  43. 43. Perfect! Just right! Look hard enough and you’ll see that cities and towns are full of gap sites – neglected spaces where proposed developments have failed to happen. Even newer housing developments hold possibilities, though potential sites are often delineated as green space already. They might comprise of dense turf and trees, or be landscaped and covered with thickets of ornamental shrubs, so clearance is tricky and may be contested. Obtaining access to power or water may require negotiation with adjacent householders, perhaps in return for access or a share of any produce you might grow. Neighbourhood spaces 45
  44. 44. © Marchmont Community Garden
  45. 45. Marchmont Community Garden When a proposed site for key worker housing was deemed too small for development, local residents decided to make the best of what was otherwise just a piece of wasteland, and turn it into a fully accessible community garden that increased biodiversity. With the help of the London Wildlife Trust, and a steering group of residents and partner organisations, they secured £100,000 of Big Lottery funding and took a peppercorn lease on the site. Activities on the site have included planting events and choirs singing Christmas carols, and the garden provided a venue for the first Marchmont Street Party. The Marchmont Association has now been set up and they have their eye on other neglected gems in the neighbourhood that are in need of a bit of a polish. www.marchmontassociation.org.uk
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  47. 47. Ten steps for creating a community green space There are no set rules to developing a community green space project, but there are some general principles that are worth thinking about and applying to make it more inclusive and easier to do. We’ve put together ten that we think are worth including, however big, small, high or low your green space is. 49
  48. 48. If you are setting up a green space from scratch, you need to get organised. Set up a Working Group – it should include people with authority to make decisions and time to keep things moving forward. Identify a project manager to lead and supervise the work; ‘project manager’ has become an increasingly common job description, so finding one shouldn’t be too difficult – it might be you! – though if you can find someone with experience of physical or construction projects so much the better. He or she must be experienced in dealing with the technical issues likely to arise, and able to make decisions quickly. Find people who can help both locally and nationally, with useful expertise, and relevant experience, or who might help raise funds, promote and advocate, help with the design, construction and maintenance. 1. Assemble a team 50
  49. 49. Photo © Naomi Schillinger 51
  50. 50. There are lots of different options out there, so it’s a good idea to go and talk to people who have set up a green space already. Pick one that is similar to the site you have in mind and find out what the pitfalls and advantages are. You should also ask your community what they want, as their ideas and input will help ensure the green space is regularly used. Take a creative approach to consultation – it doesn’t have to be surveys on doorsteps. Creative community engagement approaches can help people to think beyond the everyday and use their imaginations. Make it fun, while remembering that different approaches may be needed for different groups. Keep the community in the picture about what’s happening, and be sure to involve people in all stages of the proceedings. If you have access to the space you want to develop (and it’s safe and legal to do so), you could consider hosting an engagement event there. If you don’t, or if you’re still looking for a place to develop, then pick somewhere that the community use regularly or where you’re likely to encounter a range of local people. Ask people what they want to do in the space, not what they want included. Try to identify what the most important things are by asking open questions – for example, if you had £10k, what would be the first thing you’d do in this area? And get beyond the dog poo! Every community has a ‘pet’ gripe or issue about their green space and everyone needs an opportunity to get this off their chest. Consultation on change won’t get beyond this unless it’s acknowledged and addressed, so get it out of the way early on. 2. Collect ideas 52
  51. 51. Have a look at some examples of open questions: What would you like to get rid of? What do you like about the place? What should be kept? What do you do here? What would you like to do? What kind of space would you like to have? Community Service Volunteers (CSV) has 50 years’ experience in recruiting and supporting full-time volunteers to help individuals and organisations come together to build stronger communities through better services and more fulfilling lives. They may be able to help with your project by organising a team of volunteers or providing the professional skills of one of their volunteers: www.csv.org.uk Groundwork is a national organisation which, from regional hubs, forges partnerships to carry out thousands of projects, including green space projects, every year: www.groundwork.org.uk Business in the Community (BITC) is a national charity which mobilises members of its business network to support their programmes. They believe in community investment and, through local offices, support communities most in need, with time, skills, money and expertise. They also support Employee Volunteering, where staff at all levels donate time and skills during work hours to tackle local social issues. Contact your regional BITC office to see if they can help your project: www.bitc.org.uk GoodGym in London is a community of runners who get fit by doing good. They run in groups to do manual labour for community organisations. They have helped deliver turf to the Southbank Roof Garden: www.goodgym.org Further reading and resources 53
  52. 52. Photo © Camley Street © Kate Symonds
  53. 53. It’s important to understand your site fully before you plan anything in detail. Start by recording what’s already there in terms of features and plants. 3. Survey your site Slopes – great for play. Microclimates – shady places and sun traps, wind tunnels and frost pockets. Soil – quality and depth. Drainage. Trees – condition and spread. Views. Think about what’s below ground too, as this may be a constraint on what you can do. Utility companies will provide information on any pipes and cables etc., (and can also come and mark them on the ground before any construction work starts). Physical characteristics to look for: 55
  54. 54. Although great ideas often start off on the back of an envelope or scribbled on a napkin (like the Eden Project) you will need to make a proper plan to: Show what fits where – what works together? Explain to your community what is going to happen. Show how the site will develop in phases, e.g. when funding becomes available. Secure funding. Apply for planning permission or other approvals. 4. Make a plan The first decision: dividing the space – common or private? Many people struggle when there is just one big open space with no boundaries, as they find it hard to know where to start and who is responsible for what. Often dividing a garden into small plots or allotments will encourage quicker uptake, especially if this is complemented by a shared infrastructure such as tool and seed store and water supply. Create a plan Master plans have pros and cons – they are essential for getting funders and local authority support but they can be overwhelming for community members who might feel unable to contribute. It is better to leave some areas that can be developed more organically by community members where possible. Plan your space 56
  55. 55. Working with a designer on a plan can save a lot of time and provide easy shortcuts for your project. Some designers only advise or project manage, others offer a design and build service. Whether you need a designer or not will depend on the scale and complexity of the project you’re undertaking. Even if it is a big plan, a designer can help you phase it into manageable chunks. Hiring a designer can be expensive, so fundraising may be required. A local firm might offer pro bono services – design or perhaps project management. Other options include trying local college courses; it could be a good student project with the right supervision. Creating more opportunities for children and young people is often a key reason for starting a project. A great play space can offer a huge amount to the community – play is really important to the health and wellbeing of children who are spending increasing amounts of time in the digital world. A word of caution though – it’s really easy to go to a play equipment company. They often offer a planning and design service as part of the package, but you need to make sure you get what people want. Sometimes simpler is better. An engagement activity that starts with a catalogue will end up with a shopping list, not necessarily a great play experience for kids. If you go down this route, make sure that it delivers value for money and will keep children interested in the long term. For the best value, look for play equipment that is robust and multi-functional, and plan for all ages – babies and toddlers may not be able to express themselves but parents will want something they can use too. Working with designers – the design process Play 57
  56. 56. Also consider less costly alternatives which may, perhaps in combination with traditional play equipment, provide more interesting and varied opportunities for play. The natural world provides a rich environment for play and it is vitally important that children have contact with nature. A varied place with trees for climbing and loose branches for den building is a great place to play. Loose parts that can be used for multiple purposes and some container storage could be just as much fun. When planning play spaces for children, don’t forget the adults! If they are relaxed and comfortable while keeping an eye on what’s going on, the children will play for longer and have more fun and imaginative play. Project Dirt Project Dirt is a community of people doing green space and environmental projects - www.projectdirt.com Play England Play England have produced a wide range of great resources on play www.playengland.org.uk/resources.aspx Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens Promotes and offers training and advice on setting up community gardens www.farmgarden.org.uk Landscape Institute Produces guidance documents, including a guide for clients appointing a landscape professional - www.landscapeinstitute.org/registeredpractices Further reading and resources 58
  57. 57. Photo © Eden Project
  58. 58. It’s essential to get the right approvals and permission to develop a site at the outset – and that includes your initial investigations, otherwise you might be trespassing. 5. Get access and permission Finding and getting access to land to use as a community green space can be a challenge. Just because a piece of land is neglected doesn’t mean there isn’t an owner. This means that you will need to find out who the owner is and come up with an acceptable proposition to ‘borrow’, rent or buy the land. In most cases this entails entering into some kind legal contract with the owner, whether it’s a private landowner (a person or company) or a public landowner (such as the local council, a health authority or Network Rail). If you enter into a legal agreement you might want to form a community-based organisation first, so that you aren’t personally liable. See the Eden Field Guide to Community- owned Places and Spaces for more on this. Some private landowners are willing to let people develop or cultivate land that is out of use for nothing, on a temporary basis, often called ‘Meanwhile use’. Others might be prepared to lease the land, or you could try to buy it − if you can raise the funds. You can also acquire land using a community asset transfer. This is a legal mechanism that allows you to acquire the ownership to a piece of land (or a building) owned by the local authority or public sector agency. You will need to set up a community-based organisation, have some funding and have a clear plan for the ongoing ownership of the land to be successful. How to get access to land 60
  59. 59. There is more advice on finding and acquiring land on the Community Land Advisory Service (CLAS) website, by country, including details of the legal requirements on their website. Other types of permission Once you’ve got permission to use the land there still might be other requirements to bear in mind. Below are a couple of important ones to consider. Trees Trees take a long time to grow and mature and are special features in any community. Check with the local authority to see if any of the trees are protected with Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). If your chosen site is in a Conservation Area, any trees will be automatically protected too. Heritage Existing parks and gardens may be important pieces of local heritage which can make it easier to get volunteers but can also require permission to make changes. If it’s on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, it is afforded protection and approval will be required to make changes. Community Land Advisory Service (CLAS) - www.communitylandadvice.org.uk Historic England - www.historicengland.org.uk The Meanwhile Foundation - www.meanwhile.org.uk Further reading and resources 61
  60. 60. Photo © Helene Rudlin
  61. 61. A lot of effort and thought can go into making a plan but the most important thing is to make something happen. Changing or creating green spaces doesn’t have to be expensive. The creative process doesn’t stop with the plan, but one of the first things you might have to do is clear the site. Don’t throw everything in a skip – see what you can repurpose. To start most projects, you will need: Materials – plants, soil, stone, timber. See if materials can be donated or repurpose waste. Labour – people to do the work. Skilled, professional labour to install any of the materials is usually two to three times the cost of the materials. Equipment – saves labour and time. But you will need to budget for this - and you might need training. Take a phased approach if it’s a big project, break it into achievable chunks – clearing or establishing the site, planting days, etc. Be realistic about the amount of time you (and your team) have to spare, and plan accordingly so you don’t run out of people or momentum before the project is up and running. Everyone involved in the project is likely to have existing commitments so try and accommodate them. 6. Make something happen 63
  62. 62. You don’t have to have money to make a project work, but it can make a big difference. It’s not just a question of getting start-up funds to establish a green space, there will be ongoing costs to consider, so when you start planning, think about ways of generating further income – not just further fundraising bids – to make your project sustainable. Funders are likely to regard projects with a long-term strategy more favourably. 7. Money In-kind donations are a great way to get support for your project without having to start a spreadsheet. Contact local businesses and see if they can lend people or equipment, or provide in-kind donations – a hardware store or garden centre might be willing to let you have something for free if you give them a bit of a plug in any publicity. Large businesses, including supermarkets, are sometimes able to provide this kind of support. Remember to acknowledge any gifts of time or equipment and invite your benefactors to any celebrations you hold. Many organisations offer grants to community groups for a wide range of projects, for example the Big Lottery. Funders are usually restricted in what they can fund – it’s important that you take the time to find the right funders for your project, and ensure it will meet their requirements as well as yours. It’s generally not a good idea to shape a project around a particular funder’s requirements, though, if it means you have to compromise what you really want to do. It’s a community project, so should incorporate local people’s needs first and foremost, not the funder’s – but sometimes a compromise is necessary. So be certain you understand the requirements first. Donations of material or time Fundraising for big (capital) projects 64
  63. 63. New developments have an obligation to contribute to the wider infrastructure of the community, including schools and open spaces – at present there are two different types of mechanism which work in different ways so contact your council for more information. It’s possible you can get funding via these. Community shares are a way for an enterprise with a social purpose to raise capital but they do not suit every organisation. Section 106 Agreements and Community Infrastructure Levy Community shares Establish a good track record: once you have demonstrated to one funder that you can be trusted to deliver, it can be easier to get more money from them, or from another funder. Funding paperwork can be time-consuming – and a bit dull. Treat it as a learning opportunity: the more you do, the easier it becomes – and don’t let it mount up. Make personal contact with the funding organisation before filling out a form – there are sometimes local representatives, or people with connections who can help. There are professionals who can help with complicated applications for large sums of money. They will charge for this service and will also rely on the information you give them about the project. There may be requirements to report back on specific criteria. EFG Community-owned Places and Spaces by Dave Chapman Community Shares - www.communityshares.org.uk Community Land Advisory Service (CLAS) - www.communitylandadvice.org.uk The Big Lottey Fund - www.biglotteryfund.org.uk Further reading and resources 65
  64. 64. It might seem obvious, but celebrating everyone’s achievements is an essential part of any community project. Celebrations can be big or small – a toast at the end of a day’s work, or a party to mark the completion of a specific phase of the project - it doesn’t matter. Celebrations create a sense of fellowship and commitment, and can help to keep up momentum amongst your volunteers (of which you are probably one). Take loads of photos and put them up on social media for your volunteers to see – photos might encourage more people to lend a hand. Make sure you get their permission in writing before you post images of them. 8. Celebrate your achievements Organising a ‘big dig’ type activity can really rally the troops and volunteers can get a huge sense of achievement from being involved in making changes over a short period of time. Things you can do: Litter picks Bulb planting (with wishes), wildflower planting Make a plastic bottle greenhouse. Quick wins 66
  65. 65. Photo © Jane Knight
  66. 66. Abundance – Grow Sheffield Abundance was established by Grow Sheffield with the idea of seeing the city as a giant orchard. It is based on the simple but powerful idea that people with fruit trees often have far more than they can use – the project built a sharing network, which encouraged people to go and help harvest and share the produce. Existing fruit trees were complemented by new trees planted on roadsides and vacant lots. A team of fifty volunteers collect and harvest the fruit for distribution either fresh or processed into juice. The tree owners are given first pick and are saved the burden of harvest and the sight of seeing the fruit rot away. Through the winter new trees are planted and training given on tree pruning. The project has grown into a movement inspiring people to reassess their existing resources and think about what can be unlocked by sharing and mutual support. www.growsheffield.com
  67. 67. Photo © Grow Sheffield
  68. 68. All of this effort is for a purpose – if you’ve planned it properly and everyone is still excited about it, then you won’t have any trouble finding uses for your green space. Community green spaces are the opposite of windblown recreation grounds, they’re there to be used by the community. Although your close-knit team are likely to be regular users, you may need to give other people an excuse to join in. Plan activities and events, and experiment with new uses for the space that encourage different groups to come and use it - it could be a coffee morning for older people, a making session for families, or a barbecue for young people. Whatever you do don’t let it stagnate – keep planning, keep improving it; your community green space should evolve and change like the community around it. See the next sections for more ideas. 9. Use it 70
  69. 69. Community green space projects are about the long haul if they’re to make a real difference. A pop-up can invigorate a community, but a permanent green space should be resource for everyone and that means maintaining it. Maintenance should be at the back of your mind throughout the planning process so you don’t make back-breaking work for yourselves (or financial headaches for that matter). Things to bear in mind: Trees will take a while to establish themselves. Plants will generally need more attention in the early stages as they establish themselves. Built things usually look their best when they’re just finished, they will need maintenance and maybe replacement longer term. Paths – they should be durable but they will need to be clear. Who’s going to look after it all? It could be you, but it shouldn’t be just you. Watering – the most basic maintenance, you can’t rely on the rain to do this for you, so consider a rota for such regular tasks. Some maintenance can be done in big chunks, so consider organising days for seasonal clean-up, litter picking and mending. Make them fun and people will be more likely to come along and lend a hand. 10. Maintain it 71
  70. 70. grub games chairs loos fire 72
  71. 71. Great green space features Community green spaces are as much about people as plants or wildlife, so it’s important to plan them with people in mind. In this section you’ll find a range of features that you could include to encourage people to linger, as well as some essentials to make them easy to use. 73
  72. 72. Not all of these features will be appropriate for your community green space, and you should do some further research before you commit to including any of them. If you’re uncertain what to include, or you have something ambitious in mind, you could talk to a professional landscape architect or designer. Some professionals will do work on a pro bono basis – in other words, for free – but in most cases you will have to pay for them. The more ambitious the ideas the more likely you are to need a plan. A good professional master plan or design could help you get the landowner’s approval, planning permission and funding, as well as helping with any legal contracts, so it could be money well spent. Picking and choosing key features 74
  73. 73. 75
  74. 74. The more accessible your green space is, the wider its appeal. More people will use it if you take account of their diverse needs and make it easy to get around. Making it accessible Some people will need paths in order to make use of a community green space – most people will if the weather is bad. Paths will be used for walkers, dogs, joggers, bikes, buggies and mobility scooters so make sure they’re wide enough to accommodate them or that there are passing places if not. Paths 76
  75. 75. Sharing information is a chance to uplift, intrigue and inspire. Every garden needs some written information but people often go into dull ‘sign speak’ when preparing these. This is often combined with telling people what you think they ‘must know’ rather than what they might find interesting and engaging. The best option is to write the signs as if you were showing round an old friend and say what you would say to them – in plain English. Imagine it as a conversation between you and the visitor when you aren’t there. Include poetry and jokes, not just factual information. Have some temporary and flexible places for current news – blackboard paint is a wonderful thing! Plant labels can be tricky – people like to know what different plants are, but just putting the Latin names excludes non-gardeners. At the Eden Project we have tried to tell a small story about every important plant, why we have it and what it is used for – even the most every- day plants have a story to tell. Signs and labels Plant labels 77
  76. 76. Seating is one of the most important and most overlooked features in landscape design. Seats make a space comfortable for everyone and are crucial for anyone with limited stamina – older people and people with a debilitating illness, for example. It is easy to treat seating as something that can be sorted later, but this often ends up with it being forgotten, or put somewhere inappropriate because there isn’t space. Think about what are the seats are for – who wants to sit in a row on a bench staring at a random view, for example? Why not provide portable seating so people can group where and with whom they want? Choose seats that are robust, comfortable for different shapes and sizes, and in good locations. Shelter is an important consideration – being able to shelter from the elements will make events more viable and extend the length of time people can use the garden. Shelter from rain and wind is important, but so is being able to shelter from the sun – this is crucial for anyone taking medication which makes them sensitive to sunlight, older people, and young children. Most people will welcome a bit of shade. Temporary shelter can be effective, for example pergolas, umbrellas and fold-out canopies etc., or consider something more permanent such as summer houses and huts. Seats Shelter 78
  77. 77. Access to toilets and changing facilities is crucial. If you don’t have scope to include toilets as part of your plans it is important to find out where the nearest available facilities are. Include information about Changing Places toilets. These are designed for people with profound and multiple disabilities; there is a searchable map on their website. If you are running an event, consider hiring one of their mobile toilets to maximise participation. Toilets Great British Public Toilet Map - www.greatbritishpublictoiletmap.rca.ac.uk Changing Places - www.changing-places.org Widgit (accessible signage) - www.widgit.com Eden Field Guide to Inclusive Communities by Stuart Spurring and Jane Stoneham Further reading and resources 79
  78. 78. Your green spaces could include sports pitches, tennis courts, bowling greens, basketball courts, ping-pong tables or a sandy spot to play boules. Think about changing facilities, and lighting if people want to play after dark – and insurance. Making it fun Games and play are a great way to encourage children (and adults) to be playful, inquisitive and adventurous by making use of what you have to hand. Games can be very simple. For example, Gofindit is a game developed by the Sensory Trust to encourage children to explore gardens and other safe spaces. Treasure hunts are popular with all ages - try a nature-themed mini-beast hunt, or make a miniature garden or a piece of art out of natural materials. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. Kids are generally happy with a place where they have permission to snap off twigs, get muddy, play in the long grass, make noise and build dens. Permission is the key thing, imagination and energy will do the rest. Remember to provide for different types of play to suit different children – adventurous, active, creative or inquisitive. What do they need? Dense shrubby areas like willow are perfect, also ideally some mounds to run around and play ‘King of the Castle’ on (remember to include slopes for wheelchair users to join in too). Water is great for play too and doesn’t need to be complex – just a hosepipe or sprinkler, wellies and waterproofs and permission to make mud is all that you need. Play 80
  79. 79. Build dens from woodland trimmings. Create simple water play with guttering and hosepipe. Make waterslides with a hosepipe, a slope and a long sheet of plastic. Mark out hopscotch and other pavement games using a box of chalk. Make petal leaf pictures. Treasure trails, sensory trails, adventure trails, fitness trails… they all offer ways of creating journeys through your site that engage people in different ways. You’ll need to make some signs or include some features to make it easy to navigate and explore. Simple play ideas: Trails 81
  80. 80. Making it sociable Cooking and eating together are essential elements of community- building. This could mean including options for cooking outdoors – building a clay oven for example, or a barbecue – or at its simplest, providing the opportunity to eat together. Tables are a crucial part of the mix. Ideally opt for portable rather than fixed tables and benches as the latter are hard for many people to use and discourage flexible group gatherings. Very few gardens or green spaces make provision for fire – perhaps there is a perception that it is an unnecessary risk – but a fire can provide a focal point and the opportunity for people to gather round and strike up conversations. A simple fire pit for logs or a brazier can create an easy-to-manage fire for people to gather around – but avoid smoky bonfires unless it’s 5th November. Fires aren’t without risk so you should contact the landowner for permission and the local council and/or fire station for advice before you start anything; there are requirements you will need to meet and you will probably need insurance. Having a space where people can gather in reasonable numbers is really good idea. If you have room you could create a simple hard- surfaced area with some basic drainage so it doesn’t pool. If you have the money then an open-sided shed or summer house is also a great asset. Eating and cooking together The special role of fire Gathering space 82
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  82. 82. Sometimes people just want to be alone or socialise in small groups. Providing quiet spots to relax, chat, sunbathe or picnic will encourage more people to use the space. If you’ve got offices nearby then you may find people anxious to escape their desks. Key features you could include: Lawns Flower beds and borders Trees for shade Water features – ponds, streams, fountains, lakes. Remember to include seating, tables and bins nearby. Quiet spaces and picnic spots This is important for everyone but especially teenagers who have nowhere to go and just be themselves in most communities. The answer doesn’t have to be something formalised like a youth club – for example a small hut they can make their own is simple and effective. Find out the kind of places they like to hang out and get them to help design and build it. Make sure everyone knows the ground rules (e.g. no fires without permission, no smoking), and ensure that that there is appropriate insurance. Hang out space 85
  83. 83. Making it grow Growing food can be a really rewarding way to use a community green space. It offers a reason for people to visit the garden regularly to care for the crops and an opportunity to celebrate the harvest – a pumpkin patch could lend itself to a soup or pumpkin pie night as well as provide the raw material for Jack-o’-lanterns at Hallowe’en. If you are setting up an orchard you’ll have the excuse to wassail and hold apple days. Rather than treat it like an allotment and try to grow a significant quantity of food crops, you could just pick and choose a few interesting or unusual crops – or use the space to grow things that are otherwise expensive to buy, like herbs. Food growing Make space for a cutting garden in which flowers and foliage are grown for cutting and crafts, including drying flowers. Hanging flowers up to dry from the roof of a shed looks fabulous – they can even be sold or donated to members of the community or nearby healthcare facilities. It’s not just a spring or summer trade – people often want holly or wreaths at Christmas. Cutting gardens 86
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  85. 85. A forest garden is a method of producing food that is also beneficial to wildlife, through the planting of fruit- and/or nut-bearing trees. The concept of growing a wide variety of predominantly perennial crops in both the horizontal and vertical space was introduced into the UK in the 1980s by Robert Hart, who was inspired by tropical home gardens. Typically, there are up to seven layers in a forest garden depending on its size (see figure below) which include: 1. Tree canopy e.g. for timber. 2. Fruit/nut trees on dwarf root stock. 3. Shrubs, e.g. fruit bushes. 4. Perennial plants and herbs such as New Zealand flax for fibre and mint for tea. 5. Tubers, e.g. Jerusalem artichoke. 6. Ground cover such as wild strawberries. 7. Climbers such as hops, grapes or kiwi. Forest gardens 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 88
  86. 86. Forest gardens are intended to be self-supporting systems, with the plants themselves providing the nutrients for plant growth. For example, nitrogen is provided by cutting and mulching nitrogen- rich plants such as nettles or planting nitrogen-fixing species such as peas and beans. Comfrey is often planted around fruit trees as its deep roots can tap potassium from the soil, a nutrient which encourages flowering and subsequently fruit development. Forest gardens can also contain edible plants, commonly found in our gardens and local parks, that we in the UK have not previously considered food – such as day lilies, berberis, fuchsia and Oregon grape. Forest gardeners look at plants in a completely different way, tucking into what others would normally consider weeds, such as three-cornered leek, a useful garlic substitute, or ground elder, introduced by the Romans, who considered this plant a delicacy. You’ll need around an acre for a forest garden, though smaller ones exist. Get ideas on how to create your forest garden by visiting others (see the agroforestry and forest garden network list).  Your Forest Garden requires careful planning of the different layers. Start by establishing your tree layer first. Trees are best planted from October through to April. Apples, pears, nuts, and kiwis (at least in Cornwall). Raspberries, red currents, black currents, goji berries. Three-cornered leeks. Nettles. Best started in the autumn; establishing a forest garden can take a lot of work and careful planning, so take your time. Things you could grow in a forest garden: Agroforestry Research Trust: www.agroforestry.co.uk Permaculture Association: www.permaculture.org.uk Red Shed Nursery: www.grahambell.org/the-red-shed-nursery Forest gardens text by Emma Pilgrim, University of Exeter. Further reading and resources 89
  87. 87. Community gardens can offer great habitats for wildlife, especially insects and birds. The key elements are rich layers of trees, shrubs and bushes. A common misconception is that you have to create the entire habitat – e.g. planting nettles for caterpillars – but in reality your site already sits within a network of green spaces and typically there will be plenty of nettles in range of any garden. The important thing is to complement natural features and provide viewing opportunities for people – feeding stations for birds and maybe even butterflies and include plants and trees which produce fruit and nectar. Ways of encouraging wildlife: Extend the flowering season by planting for a succession of flowers through the whole year. Include special plants such as butterfly bush (Buddleia) and ice plant (Sedum spectabile) that are particularly popular with butterflies. Flowers between March-September to feed bees (single flowers are best, double flowers can make it hard for bees to reach the pollen). In southern England some bees will feed in February so include some flowers then too. Evergreens for winter shelter for birds. Berries and fruits and flower buds for bullfinches and other birds. Areas of long grass for insects and small mammals. Walls for masonry bees. Rock piles, piles of rotting wood for insects. Wildlife areas 90
  88. 88. Keeping any form of livestock is a major commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The welfare of the animals has to take top priority and vet bills can be very high. Small-scale ventures, e.g. bees, chickens, rabbits etc., are best suited to small projects but even these will bring responsibilities. Try and find someone locally with the relevant expertise to help, e.g. a local beekeeper, farmer or city farm. Enclosures must be very effective to make sure there is no chance of animals escaping. There is also a growing concern about the transmission of diseases such as E. coli from animals to children so strict risk assessment and hygiene will be necessary. There may be local by-laws that prohibit the keeping of animals on your site so make sure you check these first. Try your local authority website first. Beehives and other livestock 91
  89. 89. Camley Street Natural Park, Kings Cross, London One of the best-known examples of derelict land transformed into a green oasis, Camley Street Natural Park was built on an old coalyard in 1984. Run by the charity Wild London, the park is a green oasis for local people in the heart of the city. It’s now completely surrounded by urban developments, making the nature reserve an even more important place for respite from the city. It also provides learning opportunities for local people. www.wildlondon.org.uk/reserves/camley- street-natural-park
  90. 90. Photo © Kate Symonds
  91. 91. Making it sustainable Bike racks, or at least something you can securely lock a bike to, are an easy way to encourage people to travel sustainably to and from a community green space. Composting is a good way of turning your waste material into something useful and saves you from having to take lots of garden waste off-site. But it has to be done properly for this to work well. Composting needs bacteria, and they need water and air and sometimes added nutrients as a kick-starter. There are plenty of guides online, and for small-scale composting you can get purpose- designed containers. They’re sometimes free or significantly cheaper from your local authority. In small gardens composting is usually inefficient, airless and stagnant, usually because people try to do it in too small a space. For larger-scale composting, you will need to dedicate a large area and ideally include a hard surface so you can get access by a machine (e.g. small digger) to turn over the compost so it’s got an adequate supply of air. You could encourage people to bring their own garden waste and in return they can take home the composted material to use in their own garden. Adding lights to a community space is a good way of extending use into the evenings and darker times of year. It will also help make the space feel safer. You will have more choice if you have a mains power supply, but even if you don’t, you could use a small generator, battery-powered lights, or try solar-powered lights. Bike racks Community composting Lighting 94
  92. 92. Having secure storage facilities for equipment is essential – portable seating, shade, and things you need for events will need to be kept somewhere safe and dry behind locked doors if they’re to last. Having free Wi-Fi in your green space can encourage more people to use the space to check email, social media or even work. Even if you’re in an area with good 3G or 4G coverage, free Wi-Fi can be a draw, as most phone contracts have a download limit. Installing a Wi-Fi hub is easier if you have a building nearby and obviously it relies on internet access and mains electricity, so will come at a cost. Some community green spaces have grown into successful charities and social enterprises offering a range of facilities and opportunities for local people. A large enough site – or the opportunity to expand – can provide space for a community centre, a garden centre, café, community kitchen or even a doctor’s surgery. These sorts of things will require further planning and permissions but can make a real difference to an already successful green space project. They can also provide a regular income for the green space, and allow you to employ people. If you already have space you could consider pop-up versions first to see if there’s interest in additional facilities. Storage Wi-Fi Community facilities 95
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  94. 94. Creative ideas to bring your green space to life A programme of events and activities will encourage people to use the space and help make it into a vital community resource. In this section are a few ideas to get you started. 97
  95. 95. Tie ribbons and pom-poms to a tree for no reason other than to make people smile. Make the tree dressing an event – get everyone in the community to add something and maybe make a wish. It’s a great way of welcoming new visitors to your project, and an ideal focus for festivals. It doesn’t matter how big your site is, a map can really help people appreciate a green space. As well as key features, maps can also show the reasons why different parts of the green space are important, what happens there, why it is valued. The community can get together to tell their stories of different places, and perhaps work with a local artist to illustrate them. This tree is popular with robins – look out for them. This is where we like to play hide and seek. This apple tree was planted by Doug to celebrate his birthday. This bush is too young to have much fruit yet, please be gentle with it – but do eat what you find – it is not sprayed. This bench was painted by… Make a wish tree Story maps Things to put on signs, labels and maps… 98
  96. 96. Film nights are very easy to organise these days with relatively affordable projectors that can run from a laptop or smartphone and a portable sound system. Screening it outside can add another dimension to the evening. You can project on to a screen or a whitewashed wall. Check what time it gets dark, provide comfortable seats (or cushions) and remind people to wrap up warm – even a summer evening can get chilly. You will need a licence to show films unless you made it yourself – even if you’re screening it for free. See the Cinema for All website for a clear and easy guide to running a community cinema night: www.cinemaforall.org.uk Film nights 99
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  98. 98. You can plant a permanent tree or install a stand for cut trees, either way it provides the opportunity for people to decorate. Many modern plastic decorations can easily stand outside through the winter – as can solar-powered fairy lights. Telling stories is an ancient art, but one that’s as relevant today as it was in the past. It’s quite a skill but anyone can have a go – the story doesn’t have to be original, in fact it’s probably best to start with something classic, like a fairy tale. A bit of set dressing is always a good idea, and a special storytelling chair will help with the atmosphere – it doesn’t have to be grand. A green space can be used to acknowledge special days associated with different cultures and people’s birthdays, weddings and meaningful dates – you can find a celebration for just about every day of the year from a search on the internet, or find out from the people involved in your project. Plant a Christmas tree Storytelling Celebrate anything and everything 101
  99. 99. Music is rarely found in green spaces but there is no reason why it shouldn’t be – you can create a makeshift bandstand from pallets and flags and if power can be connected it will be a perfect spot for events such as fêtes or something for local young people to use. These have become popular and there’s a reasonable chance of finding one in your local area. They have the added advantage of attracting friends and family along as a ready-made audience. How about inviting them to help create small-scale music events? These can be combined with the sale of food, craft and produce (see the Eden Field Guide to Community Food Projects for information about selling food and produce to the public). Make music Host a community choir Music licensing Community Matters - www.communitymatters.org.uk/content/350/Music-Licensing Gov.UK - www.gov.uk/guidance/entertainment-licensing-changes-under-the- live-music-act Community Choirs UK - www.communitychoirsuk.com British Choirs on the Net - www.choirs.org.uk Further reading and resources 102
  100. 100. Scarecrow competitions Some areas already have a tradition of making scarecrows, but you could take it up a level by inviting local people to take part in a competition to create a trail of scarecrows to follow. Scarecrows come in all shapes and sizes so let your imagination go wild. An easy and fun way of attracting families, a treasure hunt will encourage them to explore and make use of more of the green space. Provide refreshments and you’ve got a great way to raise money for your project. Gardens are sometimes designed specifically for therapeutic reasons, for example a restorative space to benefit people with mental health issues, or a therapy garden used as part of a physiotherapy programme. Accessibility is crucial to any community garden and is especially important in a therapeutic garden, so ensure there are gardening opportunities at different levels – e.g. ground level, raised beds and containers - and train fruit along wires to keep the harvest within easy reach. Treasure hunts Therapeutic gardening programmes 103
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  102. 102. Conclusion Green spaces are vital to the health and wellbeing of our communities, so you can be sure that if you decided to get involved with a green space project or start your own, you will be making a positive contribution to your neighbourhood. Running a green space project however small is a commitment so pace yourself and make sure you have plenty of support and plan ahead even if you’re just planning a brief pop-up garden — once a green space projects appears, all sorts of possibilities can arise. 105
  103. 103. Eden Field Guide series Maria Devereaux and Clare Horrell Stuart Spurring and Jane Stoneham Dave Chapman Bran Howell Wendy Brewin Eden Field Guide to Community Food Projects Eden Field Guide to Inclusive Communities Eden Field Guide to Community- owned Places and Spaces Eden Field Guide to Working with Young People Eden Field Guide to Working with Older People We have created a series of Field Guides to help you plan and create your projects and make the most of the potential in your community. They are free to participants on our community projects and available to download. To find out more please email communities@edenproject.com Community Food Projects An Eden Project Field Guide to Inclusive Communities An Eden Project Field Guide to Inclusive communities are better communities. An inclusive community which welcomes diversity and encourages and enables participation is better placed to withstand the challenges of the future. This book explains what it means to be inclusive and the methods we can use to make sure everyone gets a chance to join in. FieldGuidetoInclusiveCommunities Dave Chapman Community-owned Places and Spaces An Eden Project Field Guide to n FieldGuidetoCommunity-ownedPlacesandSpaces 15/06/2015 09:32 1 Working with Older People An Eden Project Field Guide to 106
  104. 104. Community green space projects can transform communities for the better, improving health and wellbeing, creating stronger social networks, and making a positive impact on environmental issues. The Eden Project Field Guide to Community Green Spaces takes you through the benefits and offers guidance on the different types of green space projects you can do and how to get started.

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