Building a garden requires many steps be taken in the correct order. First you need the will to proceed. Then you must identify the best spot to build. You need to decide on a name, write up a Vision Statement, Terms of Reference, create a budget, Gardener Plot Contracts, and a Statement of Expectations.
You must decide on what fees to charge for the plot and who has priority when it comes to renting them. You need a written mandate, decisions on which organization is accountable for what and a committee to co-ordinate the entire process. Finally, you require the funds to provide the materials and the people to do the work.
By late summer 2014, the Sunshine Garden group was formed and much of the paperwork was complete. We had approached St. Augustine’s Church as a location and we were fortunate with the variety of expertise found among the community members.
Drawings of an innovative design that would reflect the shape of the roof of St. Augustine’s church and combine it with boxes arranged like the rays of the sun. The number of boxes that could be accommodated was 38. Eight of those boxes were designated as ‘communal’. That meant a second level of membership would allow for use of produce by all members. The design also provided a seating area and pathways that could accommodate strollers and wheelchairs. The decision was made to provide for 3 heights of boxes, some ground level, mid-level and some 2 feet tall. Most of the boxes are 4’x8’ rectangles, some are 4x4’ squares, and some are triangles.
Committees are what saves volunteers from overload. The members can focus on one aspect of the garden. In our case committees were formed to create guidelines for composting, watering and planting. These guidelines are needed to add to the package of information to be forwarded with grant applications.
By our September meeting we had a website, we were close to an agreement with the city and church. We had community support letters, Terms of Reference, and ideas on where to find grant money. A name, logo and preliminary sign design were ready.
Due to the fact that the Church has no eaves troughs, rain water collection was being incorporated into a shed design. The remainder of 2014 was filled with getting approvals, writing grant applications, opening a bank account and other legalities.
The new year of 2015 opened with a meeting filled with good news on the progress of the many details need to create our garden. Grants had been awarded and money was starting to arrive. Legalities were finalized. The shed design was completed, a volunteer designed and agreed to build the Sunshine Garden sign. Letters acknowledging and recognizing donations were drafted. How to actually build the boxes was discussed and a prototype promised. A work plan was discussed and drafted. Plans for recruiting volunteers for the build days were explored.
By February the budget amount had grown and secondary grants applications were being sent. A neighbourhood artist had agreed to paint the Sunshine Garden sign. The schedule for the build was finalized and recruitment started. Teams were established to handle the details.
March gave us the details on the composter, the water cubes, the shed, the sign, furniture, tools, plants and lots of details on the timelines.
In April St. Augustine’s congregation will host a potluck, they will bless the land and the boxes will be assigned. If all goes according to plan the build will begin April 25 and by May 10 everything will be ready for planting.