We throw the doors open for Community Garden volunteers with a Sunday lunch

While we all patiently wait for breaking of the ground at our new Tayport Community Garden this spring, we thought it was time that we started to spread the word about the ways you can get involved. We will be very busy this year with getting the garden going so there will be plenty of opportunities for regular volunteers.

We kicked off our volunteer recruitment drive with a lunch and information session on 17th January. It was lovely to see some new faces and great to chat to everybody – and thank you for signing up to our volunteer register!

Did you miss the event but would like to get involved? Email us at plant@tayportct.org.uk. Our doors are always open and we welcome everybody, whatever your skills and interests, ability or age.

On the day we were all warmed by the fabulous home-made hearty seasonal soups and breads served during lunch – thanks to Jessie, Mark, Tia and Margaret for providing those (hope we didn’t miss anybody out?). And special thanks to the Tayport Beaver and Cub Scouts‘ Mark Irwin for making sure we could heat the food up, by setting up camping stoves for us!

On the day we heard a little more about the three roles we are looking to fill just now: gardening, support, and media volunteers. As you can see from the descriptions below, volunteering for the garden will not be all about digging (although that is a great way to keep fit!). All three roles are quite diverse and include a range of tasks and levels of commitment, so we hope we can match your interests whatever they are. We would like to make sure that everybody enjoys themselves!

Here is a little more about each of the roles (click on each link to go directly to the description).

If you can think of anything else that you can offer as a PLANT volunteer, then please get in touch. We are always open to suggestions!

We would also like to hear from you if you would like to get involved in planning and coordination of PLANT activities – in particular, we are looking for people interested in coordinating volunteers and fundraising.

Media volunteers

Don’t want to wait for the garden to get involved? No problem! We are looking for more media volunteers to join our existing blogging team and to help out with PLANT publicity right now.

Last August we set up this Tayport Community Growing Space project blog – a virtual community space to grow alongside our physical Community Garden. One of its aims is to keep everybody informed about the project. But more importantly, it is also creating an online community of local bloggers to share our Tayport experiences of growing more food locally with each other and the wider world.

The blog is now well established and we have been pleasantly surprised with its success – in the first six months we have had a total 3,202 visits from 757 individual visitors.

We have a team of three active community bloggers, but there is space for more! Each of us has their own specialist, virtual ‘plot’: Kaska is writing about growing in small spaces, Cathy – about low carbon food, and Linda about garden biodiversity.

We also cover events and news through official PLANT reports. And let’s not forget Dave – tirelessly documenting everything with his camera.

If you are also interested in storytelling around growing food and environmental issues we would love to hear from you! We welcome contributions in any format – text, images, video, audio, or any combination of them you fancy.

You can become a regular contributor, with your own specialised ‘plot’. Some of the gaps in our current coverage include:

  • Experienced gardener’s diary through the seasons
  • Novice gardener’s diary on setting up a new garden
  • Gardening with a family – keeping kids interested
  • Garden DIY/upcycling
  • Volunteers or groups involved in the Community Garden
  • Or…you can develop your own ideas

Cannot commit to regular blogging in the long term? You can also make one-off guest posts on your topic of interest e.g. environmentally friendly home brewing, or simply help out with an occasional report from our events.

If you don’t fancy blogging but would still like to help with telling our story, then we also need volunteers for:

  • Facebook updates
  • Event poster design and distribution – graphic design skills desirable but not essential.
  • Writing press and newsletter copy
  • Development of publicity strategy

What is in it for you? Our media volunteers think that the experience is very rewarding.

Blogging gives you a chance to think about and research topics of interest to you – and to get some feedback from the wider world on your ideas.

“It got me writing more than just notes!” Linda

“I ended up learning more about growing potatoes in bags than I will ever need to grow them on Mars.” Kaska

Our current bloggers also say that it gave them skills and confidence to strike out on their own.

“I’ve gained the courage/knowledge to start my own blog.” Cathy

In fact, three of them, starting with no prior experience, have now set up their own independent blogs.

There are also other potential benefits. We heard from our sister organisation, Greener Kirkcaldy, that some of their younger media volunteers have got jobs based on their blog portfolios.

Don’t worry if you haven’t blogged before, neither did our current bloggers! All of the essential training is provided.

Let us end with some advice from our bloggers on how to get started:

 “Don’t be scared” Cathy

“Register, write a draft and than have it reviewed. It’s easier than it first appears!” Linda

If you are interested contact Kaska Hempel, PLANT Publicity Officer, at KaskaPLANT@gmail.com. You can also download the role descriptor here (PDF).

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Gardening volunteers

As soon as the Community Garden gates open, there will be much to do. We will need your help with a wide range of tasks – great and small.

Regular weekly open sessions will be in place, to take care of the routine gardening tasks of varied intensity such as sowing, planting, weeding, digging, mowing, watering, harvesting, polytunnel care or tool maintenance.

There will also be a number of one-off events to help with garden set up, seasonal tasks and celebrations. For example, in February we are planning a fruiting hedge planting – watch our blog Events page or Facebook for updates on this. We will also be building some raised garden beds.

Don’t worry if you have not done any gardening before – it is a perfect chance for you to learn new skills with experienced and qualified gardeners who will coordinate the gardening sessions.

You can also work towards a number of awards (which are especially suitable for young people), including:

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Support volunteers

We would like our Community Garden to be as inclusive as possible and we will need help with supporting those volunteers who may need a hand with getting involved. Whether you simply like interacting with others or are looking for more specific experience in a support role, you may want to consider becoming a ‘gardening buddy’.

What being a ‘gardening buddy’ actually involves will vary depending on personal needs and interests. The possibilities range from sharing your gardening skills, through physical assistance with gardening tasks, to supporting children’s activities.

We will need many volunteers for both gardening and support roles, especially once the gardening activities pick up later this spring.

As we wait for the garden to become available, a small group of volunteers have already started meeting for a weekly Monday morning session. This session will involve a variety of garden-related activities. In the last couple of weeks volunteers enjoyed building bird-boxes and participated in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. If you would like to join the group, contact us at plant@tayportct.org.uk or speak to a PLANT member at any of our events.

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