It has been nearly a year in the planning, but that’s how long these things take, and we are almost ready to stick a fork in the ground! There’s a committee (whoop, whoop), there’s an approved plan (whoop, whoop) and there’s community engagement (or at least, that’s what we are calling it!)
This is a major community proposal that is being funded and built by DIO, with the support of new contractor VIVO and local Chain of Command at Army HQ. Everyone acknowledges the mental health benefits of this concept and potential to pull the community together at a time when people have not really ‘got going’ again post covid. As welfare said, they have had more conversations over this project than anything they have done in the past few years, and we haven’t even built it yet. (It’s OK, they view this as a positive!)
The array of talents on the patch is as wide and varied as you would expect these days – a qualified landscape designer did the garden design (a serving officer as well as wife and mother, just saying). Another person is an experienced designer so did our flyers, others are applying for grants and planning future talks and group outings. People have supported the concept in many ways and in so doing, connections have been made and community built.
Anyone wanting to develop any part of the DE Gardeners concept on their patch should be encouraged by this experience. Although progress for a project of this size feels slow to some, it has arguably been fast for DIO! Those in positions of influence have been wholly supportive of the concept throughout.
Maybe inevitably the most searching questions have come from the SFA occupants situated directly adjacent to the garden, but with Chain of Command support everyone has agreed to give the project a chance and monitor potential problem areas once the site is in use. Pragmatic to the last, our goal has been to get the project off the ground making concessions to the design wherever necessary to achieve this end.
In the process of designing this garden, we have created template documents including a constitution and business plan that would be of use to any group, whether planning a project like this or wanting to oversee sustainable SFA gardening.
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