When a former lawn tennis court in the heart of Plymouth fell into disuse, it was earmarked for development but Collings Park Trust and the local community wanted to turn it into a community garden instead.
The big idea
Prioritise green space in the city centre by developing the site into a community garden for locals to enjoy. Collings Park Trust, a registered charity, plans to preserve and enhance the wildlife as well as dabble with food-growing, exercise and community events.
On 11th December the charity Collings Park Trust successfully raised £21,380 from 40 backers in just 28 days.
Sam Smith, a team member at Collings Park Trust explained how match funding from Plymouth City Council helped out: “Plymouth City Council provided £5,000 of very helpful match funding for the project. We asked Sam Smith, a team member at Collings Park Trust about what this support meant to the project: “The council has a difficult job to do balancing the needs of development with the desire of communities like ours not to lose its green space. The fact the council could help give this project a funding boost encouraged us all to take ownership of the situation and to work with the authority to find a positive way forward.”
The pledge rewards
Pledges ranged from £5 to £50. Smaller pledges were rewarded with a thank you letter and anything over £20 also included a VIP invite to the Spring BBQ launch party.
In the press
Sam told us: “The Herald was very supportive and reported on the story a number of times. Pictures sell stories so the more you can help the press in that respect the better. Our story was also featured on BBC local radio because it tapped in to wider issues about development in cities.”
Thanks to the huge boost in funds, work can start with the site being fenced sympathetically and appropriately for the surroundings.
What they said
Sam explained how the local community was vital to the campaign: “The local community was united in the idea that we wanted to preserve this piece of green space rather than see it built on. We do not have close access to a local park and people could quickly see how creating a community garden would provide us with a fantastic local resource and tapped into the passion many of us have for gardening. A substantial group of local people also formed an association early on to give some structure to our efforts and show the community we were organised and committed.”
Tips to project owners
Sam and her team created a brilliant video; here are their top tips for yours: “Keep it short and simple. People have incredibly short attention spans especially when viewing video on a mobile device — as many do. Our video reflected the essence of our campaign which was once it’s gone it’s gone. If we don’t protect green spaces then where will our kids run around and pick blackberries?”
You should also utilise social media if possible and Sam and the team set up both a Twitter and Facebook page. Don’t overlook more traditional methods too, as Sam pointed out: “The main part of our campaign was word of mouth and a lot of shoe letter delivering updates through letterboxes. Our initial campaign was tightly focused on our local area, so that was possible; we think social media will play a bigger part as we move forward and need to generate a regular income.”
- Visit the Collings Park Trust project page to find out more.