Interesting letter from Brighton with some useful ideas for Leeds, perhaps:
We have developed a procedure for projects growing in parks with Brighton & Hove City Council. They are primarily interested in whether the group has the capacity to keep the project maintained for the long-term and if it is for the benefit of the local community. As the funding for parks have been reduced so dramatically usually they are keen to see park gardens being maintained by volunteers as it can have other benefits too; they keep an eye on the area, undertake litter-picking and anti-social behaviour is reduced as more people are using the space.
We usually help any interested groups undertake a community consultation and help them write a project proposal which they give to the Council for approval. This process tends to weed out any groups that aren’t going to be around for the long-term. I’ve attached a few documents:
The agreed procedure for new gardens in public spaces is what we give to interested individuals, the BHCC draft checklist is for the Council’s own use and then if the consultation has been successful we help them to complete a community agreement.
We are running two demonstration gardens in parks. The first is at Preston Park http://bhfood.org.uk/preston-park-demo-garden which has been going for 7 years now with regular volunteers, this has raised beds in a low fenced area, a mixture of perennial and annual plants and a weekly group of volunteers and vulnerable adults who are supported by a paid member of staff who goes every 2 weeks. The second is now being developed at Saunders Park http://bhfood.org.uk/saunders-park-edible-garden where we are putting in a more perennial less time-consuming garden; which currently has workshops twice a month with the community.
We’ve helped set up Wish Park Community Garden http://bhfood.org.uk/wish-park-community-garden and a permaculture garden at Dyke road park http://bhfood.org.uk/dyke-road-park-community-garden . A new garden is starting in Norfolk Square park. Some of the parks have planted community orchards with the help of Brighton Permaculture Trust https://brightonpermaculture.org.uk/orchards/communityorchards
Vandalism isn’t anything like as much of a problem as people think it might be. The odd leek has been stolen, one garden had someone cutting the plants in two for a few months and then it stopped, someone dug up and pinched a tree. You need to make sure you have a strong group or organisation as you really don’t want the park looking tatty if beds aren’t weeded/watered etc. Although the right design will help this issue if you need it to be less time-consuming.
Many thanks to Helen Starr-Keddle, Development Officer, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership)