A good life... (AGGIL 5)
As I looked across the Community Gardens this morning, before our rather wet and curtailed Saturday Social, I was overwhelmed with emotions for the journey this place set me off on almost five years ago.
A week before Christmas in 2014, I received the keys to a very local community gardens and the tenancy of the 3m by 3m growing space below. It was weedy yet had a pretty prolific perpetual spinach, a fabulous thyme and a fragrant fennel in situ. A few hours later, using our communal tools, I'd cleared all the weeds, dug the rich soil over and begun thinking about the growing year ahead.
It's from this quiet, contented few hours that my love of growing vegetables and fruits really began to return, and I started to benefit from working with my hands in the earth once more.
Over the next 10 months some things grew really well whilst others did the bare minimum of what I had hoped for; though to be frank everything was a success in my rose-tinted eyes!
At our Association AGM the following October, I put up my hand when they called for new committee members. At my first committee meeting a week or so later the Chair stood down, and I found myself the only person in the room with a little time on my hands. I thought it would be a fun and worthwhile project, and anyway I had an hour or two a month to spare. It's fair to say that I totally underestimated the amount of time and commitment this decision would eventually entail, and I also totally underestimated the amount of fun, value, friendship and fabulous community engagement I'd encounter along the way.
Having now been active in guiding the running of the Community Gardens for the past four years, alongside a fabulous and supportive committee, I'll be standing down as Chair at our AGM in early November. It seems the right time for myself AND the Community Gardens. With any organisation, the time comes for some to move on and for others take the reins; new energy and guidance reinvigorates to take things further and continue the success.
At our AGM we'll also be celebrating ten years from breaking ground on the Community Gardens - ten years of growing food, flowers, enhancing the ecology and environment and doing our bit in community development and enhancement. It seems the perfect time for another to take up the baton.
I'll keep my plot at the Community Gardens for another year, and remain on the committee. I'll be taking a back seat, though supporting whenever I'm needed and able. Our new Chair is already a very active member of the committee so the Community Gardens will be in solid and safe hands.
Little did I know when I took on my small growing space five years ago that it would lead to me being the Chair of trustees of Social Farms & Gardens today; an organisation that at the time I didn't even know. As a national charity, with members and offices in all four countries of the UK, we support and are a voice for over 1,300 community gardens, city farms, care farms, forest schools, school farms, orchard projects and lots of other community managed green spaces. My small role in this organisation is something I'm proud off and derive both benefit and satisfaction from.
There is no doubt that sometimes I find my time challenged. Though I work largely from my home office, and am regularly able to take an hour out of my day to attend the plots, my clients obviously need my time and energy too. Though I'm lucky to now love much of my work, the satisfaction I get from my voluntary work really grounds me, as do the benefits that I get from taking time to grow at my Community Gardens plot and our allotment plots.
So, as I stood this morning amidst a tangle of weeds and mud, with a tinge of cold in the air and rain tumbling down, I appreciated that though ours is by no means a perfect life, it is a good life.
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 5
12/10/2019 07:31:05 pm
Thank you Paul a precious read it's takes a man of leadership to allow rotation of leaders..new blood. It will free you to clear that new plot can't wait to go on that journey with you...I read gardening is either creating new memories or recreating an old one..your Dad would be proud...and not all the manual labor but observing quietly all you have done good and bad, observing it a different times of the day becoming a part of the landscape..It is a good life💌
12/10/2019 09:28:43 pm
Anna, what amazing words! Thank you for them. 😊 "Gardening is either creating new memories or recreating an old one" is just perfect. ❤️
Izzy and Anne
13/10/2019 07:19:42 am
We were really touched by this most recent blog. After illness Izzy had to leave her 9-5 job and getting an allotment has transformed our lives. The quality of our life (and diet) has improved enormously and we really understood your thoughts about the transformative potential of growing your own food, and getting in touch with the rhythms of the year and being open to the possibilities brought about by embracing change. So thank you so much for your words. Anne was most taken by the parallel that she is in the process of bringing on new leadership at work, and letting go of some of her old familiar roles, and how important it is to encourage this to allow development of others and give space for new ideas and energy.
13/10/2019 08:22:38 pm
Again thank you for your kind words and I'm really pleased that this has met with kindred spirits. I think it's really important to try and take charge of as much of our own lives as we can. I feel so many people just travel along the conveyor belt of life, doing what others do, saying what others say and believing what others believe. It's also good to take the opportunity to take time out, realise the situation, and let other people take the lead where it's beneficial for us and them. 😊
13/10/2019 11:49:52 am
Lovely post! Sharing gardening is so wonderful. Through the years I’m sharing gardening with my children, grandchildren, and now the great grandchildren. One little one picks kale from the plants and is thrilled and gets praise at being such a good gardener. And she likes her green smoothies at age five! I’ve always run around with a spoon saying” just one taste, you’ll like it!” And now it’s wonderful to see kids enjoying natural tastes of veggies. Great job in helping to spread the word to the children and next generation!
13/10/2019 08:26:51 pm
Thank you so much Wyfy. These memories that you are creating for you and your children and children's children, and children's children's children is really lovely to hear. It so important to understand the value of growing and gardening; it may not be right for everyone though it's certainly right for a lot of people, even if they don't realise it at first. 😊
Pix & Sounds
15/10/2019 10:08:23 am
16/10/2019 12:46:57 pm
Thank you so much for those lovely and kind words. Indeed I am overjoyed that these two lovely plotholders have gotten married - the pictures of their wedding paint a million loves. They will be moving on from the Community Gardens (sadly...) to a plot at the allotments (Yay!!) - as it was put to me 'I have had MY plot at the Community Gardens for ages, and now it will be lovely to have OUR plot at the allotments". I so got that!
16/10/2019 12:08:42 am
Change is always good! I think the new plot area will keep you extremely busy in the coming months. I'm so excited to see the new area and all the wonderful things you and Richard will do. Sending much love across the pond!
16/10/2019 12:48:00 pm
Thank you so much Wendy, and I certainly think we will be busy... once we can get on to it... 🤞
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...long term partners.