Volunteer and Trustee Peter Sandwell has written us an explainer about the Garden Participation in It’s Your Neighbourhood.
It’s Your Neighbourhood is Beautiful Scotland’s community environmental improvement initiative which is managed in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) under the Britain in Bloom campaign. It runs alongside Beautiful Scotland but is non-competitive and is based on the three pillars of community participation, environmental responsibility and gardening achievement.
It’s Your Neighbourhood is designed to attract volunteer-led community groups which are cleaning and beautifying their neighbourhoods, whether through community allotments, after school wildlife clubs, school eco-groups, Friends of Park groups, or adopting pieces of derelict land. Beautiful Scotland supports and encourages participating groups from across Scotland, and reward through a series of certificates to acknowledge the good work being done on behalf of their communities.
It’s Your Neighbourhood, certificates are awarded to every group, with five levels of achievement, to encourage and reward progression.
The certificates are as follows:
In addition, for groups which have consistently grown and improved over the years of taking part, a Certificate of Distinction is available. To be eligible for this, a group must:
- Have participated in It’s Your Neighbourhood for at least four years.
- Achieved the ‘Outstanding’ level in the current year or moved up at least two levels since first entering.
- Not be eligible to enter the Beautiful Scotland campaign.
Ninewells Community Garden has entered IYN for a number of years and currently has been awarded Certificates Level 5 – Outstanding and a Certificate of Distinction.
The focus for groups taking part in It’s Your Neighbourhood are the three themes of community participation, environmental responsibility and gardening achievement. The greatest emphasis for It’s Your Neighbourhood is community participation.
Community participation is worth 40% of the total points (40/100). It’s all about working together for the benefit of the local area, through things like:
- Being inclusive – the group is a part of the community and has an openness which enables any member of the community to support, contribute to or have a say in its work if they wish. Ninewells Community Garden has focused its efforts on the needs of the communities it serves. A small charity working in partnership with voluntary & statutory services, the garden is a place of refuge that promotes healing, an understanding community that makes it easy to share feelings and concerns.
- Engaging – the people involved with the group’s activities are part of the community and are actively trying to involve other community members. Ninewells Community Garden is focused on increasing participation for volunteers experiencing disadvantage as a result of life circumstances and has steadily increased the growing space.
- Local ownership and direction – the decisions about what needs doing and how things are done are taken by the group after consulting the local community. Ninewells Community Garden is a volunteer-led project and is managed by its trustees who share a passion for gardening and believe in the therapeutic benefits to promote physical and mental wellbeing. A facilitator is on site 4 days a week to support Ninewells volunteers and oversee the day-to-day running of the garden. Most importantly we have a rich and diverse team of volunteers who look after the garden, the wildlife and help run workshops and events – without the support of volunteers the garden would not be able to function!
Making a difference to local people – evidence that the group’s work has the support of local people and is improving aspects of their daily life. People are coming to the garden through word of mouth, from local social prescribers and local services. Being active outdoors, learning new skills and contributing to their local community are the major drivers.
Environmental responsibility is worth 30% of the total points (30/100). It’s all about caring for your local area’s environment, though things like:
- Promoting responsible dog-ownership to reduce dog fouling.
- Supporting our Clean Up Scotland campaign to reduce littering, dog-fouling, abandoned cars, graffiti, flyposting and flytipping. A number of litter picks are undertaken by the Garden Volunteers.
- Practising environmentally responsible approaches, for example by using peat-free compost, composting of green waste, minimising water usage, and establishing local recycling. The volunteers and Garden facilitators make every effort to use peat free compost; the garden does reuse previously used peat from a local plant propagating nursery reducing waste.
- Developing community green spaces by increasing the use of the spaces and developing the skills and involvement of users. The garden has created a valuable local green space for use by the local people and volunteers who greatly benefit from the green space.
- Conservation activities such as supporting local wildlife through installation of bird/bat boxes, log piles or bee hives; planting of pollinator friendly plants; re-introducing native species or controlling non-native/invasive species; and creating new habitats or renovating existing ones such as ponds, wildflower meadows, and coppicing. Volunteers are committed to supporting local wildlife through the provision of bird feeders and bird boxes. The recent expansion of the wildlife garden provides even more opportunities for volunteers to support the local volunteers
- Efforts to encourage a sense of local heritage, for example through education and heritage-related activities such as tree trails, history leaflets, and signage/interpretation boards.
Gardening achievement is worth 30% of the total points (30/100). It’s all about beautifying your area through good gardening practices such as:
- Good plant choices for the local conditions (soil, climate, aspect), which suit the natural and built environment; a good balance between seasonal and permanent planting. The garden contains a wide range of ornamental plants both annual and perennial, along with an ever changing variety of fruit and vegetable plants raised and tended to by the volunteers.
- Appropriate quality of maintenance, for example good pruning, mulching, and a lack of weeds. Regular volunteer sessions overseen by the garden facilitators ensure that the garden is well maintained and kept weed free, where appropriate.
- Creativity – planting that shows originality and local flavour. Many of the volunteers take personal responsibility for the planning and planting of the garden ensures that the planting in the garden is creative and reflects the interests of the volunteers.
- Development of community gardening activities, for example developing areas in partnership with village halls, church groups, allotment societies, residents’ associations; and undertaking group planting events for window boxes, hanging baskets, bulbs, and wildflower areas. A range of garden activities, including online activities has ensured the volunteers and the local community has been kept engaged over the last year of the pandemic.
- Taking on the maintenance of neglected areas such as barren verges or waste ground. The maintenance of the garden area and surrounds has ensured that the area is well maintained.
Certificates Level 5 – Outstanding
Certificate of Distinction
To keep the assessors and garden volunteers safe during the site visitors the garden has signed up to the It’s Your Neighbourhood group pledge for 2021
To keep everyone safe, we pledge to adhere to the following when our volunteer assessor visits:
- Maintain social distance in line with Scottish government guidelines for my area
- Wear face coverings outdoors in situations where 2 metre physical distancing is not always possible
- A maximum of 2 representatives from our group can show the assessor around, with a maximum of 1 additional community rep at any other sites visited
- Use hand sanitiser
- We will not provide any refreshments/hospitality
- We will not go inside any buildings/enclosed spaces
- We will not provide transport for the assessor during the visit.
The gardens contact, Mary Colvin will be contacted by the assessor prior to the 25th of June and the visit will take place by the end of September.