Getting formal….constitution,charity or social enterprise, funding applications & more……

The concept of creating a sustainable therapeutic garden has been a vision of mine for at least two years now; that elephantine gestation period has allowed me and others committed to the project to really mull over what our hopes and aims for the project are and also, critically, to explore whether it is feasible (which we believe it is). We have got this far already with the benefit of able bodies to do the heavy physical stuff and support Louise and I who are leading taking things forward but, especially in my case, limited physically. However, we are both creative, passionate, plant lovers committed to the project for the duration. I’m very organised, Louise is good at painting, I love doing documentation and writing, we both love propagation of all sorts. We both have belief and support from our families, essential for any project like nurturenature.

So far all the development has been self-funded but to ensure the project is able to fulfil our aims and is sustainable we need both initial pump priming capital funds to do major landscaping tasks – de-silting and clearing weeds from the culvert and establishing better wheelchair access being the two most critical tasks. If we were able to obtain sufficient funding, building a south-facing,sun filled meditation/reading/resting pod above the culvert and obtaining an additional polytunnel would be next on the priority list.

Bertie enjoying the weeds while he can

My own current critical tasks therefore are to convert this vision and my own (quite detailed) records of it into documents and presentations that clearly convey that vision and its potential benefit to the community to a reader who has no prior knowledge of nurturenature and our aspirations as succinctly as possible. I love writing and am looking forward to this but only hope I can persuade others to believe as passionately in where we are heading as I do. A mind-map is  often my starting point as it enables me to visualise a large number of connected thoughts at once and in a format I find much more useful than a collection of lists.

Having established where our funding priorities lie we are beginning the process of obtaining quotes to submit to potential funders and exploring who such funders might be. Already I have learned alot about de-silting; two things stand out….the rather lovely term for a sort of huge hoover connected to a tanker which sucks up the silt is a ‘sludge gulper’ but also that ‘sludge gulping’ is scarily expensive and certainly prohibitive for us as individuals. On the other hand our first contact with any sludge gulping firm, Environmental Services Chesterfield, has been very positive, with them being extremely professional and also very willing to help us where they can given the context of the work. We are awaiting other quotes as well as detailed quotes for wheelchair access around the garden and the cherry on the cake of the meditation pod.

Meanwhile, we are exploring whether to pursue charitable or social enterprise status at this point, getting advice from THRIVE (national social and therapeutic horticulture, STH, charity), writing a constitution, moving forward with formalising a steering group with an appropriate skill mix of members and also putting a presentation together summarising what will be on offer for potential users for those who might refer them to the garden such as local GPs, CCG, Health & Wellbeing Board, local councils (Barnsley and Sheffield), patient groups etc.

And of course the list goes on… do we attract a group of volunteers to help take things forward, is there a local therapeutic horticulturalist who would be interested in helping , how do we ensure that we build evaluation in from the beginning, how do we raise ongoing funds to ensure the project is sustainable? Exciting, daunting, scary, fun, rewarding, energising. And very importantly for me it is a way to give back to the community and to provide me with a real sense of purpose. Purpose and passion is a good and often productive combination.

I am (un)lucky enough to be having cataract surgery on Friday (16th) which will mean at least a week of doing pretty much nothing except resting especially since I have had to stop the miracle drug anakinra for a week before and after the surgery which has made me a bit ropey. I am hoping to use this time to get the initial formal documentation finalised so that we can move forward as quickly as possible. In terms of sustainability and self-generated funds we are dipping our toes into this, as I think I mentioned in an earlier post, with our first plant sale -now planned for Sat 30th September. More of that in my next post as well as an update on how the cataract op went. I have to say it will be a relief to get rid of the impression that I am viewing the world through cling film in my left eye. Very disconcerting!


Preparing for our plant sale….

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