The Spring is upon us! As we emerge from cold days and long evenings, we enter into a crucial time to be preparing for a new cycle in the garden. To mark this exciting and budding time of year, the What Happens Next Team have written the first of a series of blogs. These will relate to our food-growing philosophy, examples of some of the incredible projects out there, and what we are doing to encourage and support anyone to grab a handful of seeds, a trowel and experience the enjoyment of growing your own. We hope you enjoy this first Spring instalment about the Seed to Celebration...
Our belief is simple, that a network of food-growing projects can be a sum that is greater than its parts. Local leadership and a well-defined, representative goal, are two essential drivers for a successful community-led project. But could a network of schools, co-operatives, neighbourhood groups and community organisations, connected by shared objectives and an accessible platform, offer a wider framework to make groups and projects stronger?
At What Happens Next, we have been working with schools and community groups to provide holistic designs and build food-growing projects for the last four years. We have learnt how difficult it can be for projects to maintain a successful garden without the magic ingredients consistently present. Operating in isolation, it doesn’t take much for the success and stability of a community project to become vulnerable. Creating and fostering sustainable food-growing projects that are are equipped against those vulnerabilities, is what the What Happens Next Project is all about. After all, a temporary project is inherently an unsustainable one. This doesn’t solely relate to the latest growing methods and locally sourced, upcycled materials (though important!), we have also come to understand that it is about providing people with the tools and means to establish a project that continues season after season in circumstances that often lack resource of some kind.
Our approach to growing is predicated on the belief that all things exist within a cycle, and are connected. How we choose to interact with our land, towns and cities, determines the impact we have on habitats, wildlife, local environments and ultimately on our health and well-being.
That is why we are thrilled to be launching the Seed to Celebration (S2C) giveaway. At its most practical, it is an interactive, easy to navigate 'multi-tool' kit, that equips users with the general principles and sustainable practices to successfully grow 14 herbs, fruits and vegetables commonly found in a British garden.. But it is also so much more. Our aim is not only to assist and educate people with this information, but also to embed into any gardening project, the philosophy behind Celebration. The notion of the harvest will help projects appreciate and celebrate all the hard work that goes into the garden. We love to see events that bring people and communities together to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of that labour. Celebration is how you stoke the embers of stewardship, and strong stewardship is key to protecting community assets.
This is why the S2C also includes the Celebration Book. From lavender bath bombs to runner bean burgers, the Celebration Book is a collection of recipes and craft ideas for each plant for the summer and winter harvests. We have found this to be a very effective method in engaging children and offering opportunities for physical exercise, interaction with nature and to teach key skills such as growing food, cooking and crafts.
So far we have done our best to make the S2C as interactive, versatile and accessible as possible. In addition to the Celebration book, we have created interactive plant labels, each with a QR code. These can simply be scanned from the device in your pocket, directing you to that plant’s page with step by step instructions for that month alongside a video walk-through. It also contains a management plan that can be printed and read as booklet or downloaded as a digital resource with links throughout taking you to the relevant page. And this is just the free giveaway! We also offer designs and tools bespoke to the needs of individual gardens. For more information on the S2C’s content, please see the brochure.
However, we are continuing to develop the Seed to Celebration. A bottom-up approach is fundamental to the ethos of the What Happens Next Project, which is why we want to hear from you!
This is a call to action for any school, community group and / or charity with a food growing space to help us develop the S2C by downloading these interactive resources and sharing your experiences with us. Through the digital platform we want people to also create their own videos in the garden, eventually demonstrating how they decided to celebrate! This will help to shape the S2C programme by those using it and provide the foundation of an online community. Our goal is for this to become a resource hub for sharing knowledge, nurturing creativity, learning and inspiration. So the challenge to you is simple:
- Download the available links at the S2C page here
- Print and laminate the interactive plant labels and place them on the beds or in the garden and get scanning!
- Work through the management plan and information from the interactive plant labels, following the instructions to make sure your seeds and plants are healthy for harvest.
- Whether you decided to use the Celebration book or not, tell us how you decided to celebrate your harvest.
- Have a go at making videos of your own! We want to see all of your amazing gardening projects out there - make a video of a particular part of the gardening step and share with the food growing community on our online platform.
- Feedback us your experiences using the S2C to help us improve continue to improve it.. i.e. what other plants do you want to see enter the S2C pack? Let us know.
Our vision is to see more community-led initiatives take advantage of the benefits of people coming together to grow food (see blog 2 to read more on this subject). The more we are able to connect people, projects and communities, through capitalising on the instantaneous channels of communication, the more we can allow people to realise and reinforce the value of their project, no matter the scale.
If you'd like to know more about the Seed to Celebration or many of the other services offered by the What Happens Next Project, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org