Harvesting Rainwater for Wildlife

by Collingsparktrust@gmail.com in Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 3rd December 2020 we successfully raised £5,998 ( + est. £659.50 Gift Aid ) with 101 supporters in 31 days

Capturing rainwater in a beautiful community garden. For details of donor rewards click on "Read Full Story" and scroll to bottom of page.

by Collingsparktrust@gmail.com in Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

With extra funds we can enhance our rainwater collection scheme with a solar or wind-powered pump; and we also plan to offer educational opportunities in the garden around the theme of "gardening in a changing climate". We also want the garden to be accessible to everyone all year round so additional funds raised will be spent on keeping our paths and access points in good order; for example by laying wood chip around the site to reduce muddiness.


Our garden

Collings Park Community Garden is a precious green space in the heart of Plymouth which was saved from development by the local community. Our bog garden, bramble walks and wildlife meadow are a haven for wildlife, but they need water - and lots of it.


Our challenge

In the first phase of our rainwater harvesting project we put guttering on an on-site shed giving us about 6 m3 of rainwater collection in an average year.   This is stored in two water butts, each 800 litre capacity, but we need two or three times more water collection to meet the needs of the community garden.  During the summer  we have needed to fill the butts from an off-site mains water supply using long hoses.

(Birds love our garden  How many different songs can you hear in this clip?)


Our plan

In phase two of our rainwater harvesting project, we want to install a 15-metre long "French drain" (named after the American lawyer who popularised them) along the north boundary of our site, with the water collected by the drain fed into four additional, interconnected water butts. 


This drain would give about 15 m3 of extra rainwater water collection per year.  Our site is well suited to this project, with a gentle west to east slope along the north boundary.1603823881_northern_boundary.jpg

 To install the drain we need to:

  • Machine dig a shallow excavation along the north boundary to form a ‘V’ shaped ditch
  • Install impermeable membrane lining to ditch;
  • Install perforated drainpipe along length of ditch;
  • Install outflow pipework from low end of perforated drainpipe, linking to four new 800 litre water butts;
  • Backfill ditch with gravel, leaving flat finished surface at existing ground level

The benefit

The scheme will be of great benefit to the site and its visitors - both wild and human. From its beautiful beech trees, to its bog garden, to the birds and the bees, if we can save more water we can save more of the things which are precious to us all. 

Enjoy these stunning aerial views of the garden's beautiful Autumn colours  

(With thanks to drone pilots David French at Devonia Media www.devonia.media and Chris Coupland)

How We Got Here - The Collings Park Community Garden Story So Far..

In 2015 local people discovered that the site of a set of overgrown lawn tennis courts near Collings Park playing fields was earmarked for possible housing development.  They Crowdfunded more than £20k to buy the land for the purpose of creating a community garden. A year later, ownership passed from Plymouth City Council to the local community through the Trust.

Here are Sophia and James back in 2015 helping to explain back why people were so keen to preserve the land for community wellbeing.

Collings Park Trust is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) registered with the Charities Commission (Reg. No. 1163248)

Our site plan created with permaculture designer and teacher Tess Wilmot


Its stated objectives are:

To promote for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Plymouth Compton Ward and surrounding area the provision of facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupation of individuals who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, infirmity or disablement, financial hardship or social and economic circumstances, or for the public at large, in the interests of social welfare and with the object of improving the condition of life of the said inhabitants.

To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Collings Park in Plymouth.

To advance the education of the public, in particular pupils from local schools and preschools, by providing facilities and opportunities within Collings Park for learning about the natural environment.  


Keeping it Wild!

A large part of our site is being left in a state of ‘natural re-colonisation’, in other words minimizing human interference and letting nature take its course - otherwise known as ‘rewilding’.  This will increase biodiversity and provide opportunities for the local community to benefit from a small bit of wilderness within the city, all in line with our charitable objectives.

We’ve created a path through the rewilding area and this allows people to experience the flora and fauna; it also provides access to about 140 metres of bramble-edge, ideal when the blackberries are ripe and ready for picking each year!.

We also have a bog-garden in the north-east corner of the rewilding area.  The presence of water attracts an even wider range of wildlife to the site.

Our supporters

If you donate, you'll join the list of our other valued supporters which include:

Postcode Local Trust is a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.  Our project received £5,090 from the Trust, allowing us to move ahead with plans to make our community space more accessible and usable.

Plymouth City Council provided £5,000 of match-funding to help us purchase the freehold of our site.

The Woodland Trust donated 420 saplings for us to plant as wild-fruit hedging in various parts of the site.


Thank you to our kind supporters who have allowed us to offer rewards for your generous donations.  Here are the three illustrations by Plymouth-based artist Robert Allman which we are offering as A4 prints. We are also offering the A3 original of Allman1 to our highest donor. (Obviously the Richard Allman watermark will not appear!) You can see more of Richard's work at his website www.richardallman.co.uk


Allman 2

Allman 2

Allman 3


Thanks to the generosity of drone pilot David French we can also offer as rewards A4 prints of a choice of these aerial pictures of the garden and surrounding area.

Aerial 1


Aerial 31604153011_aerial3.jpg

Aerial 4

Our mugs feature these fun1604156800_image.png logos..


Other ways you can support us

Collings Park Trust is a charity that relies entirely on membership and fundraising to support our work looking after the garden on behalf of the community. We have several levels of membership: individual (£4/month), household (£6/month) or you can join us as a supporter (£1/month). If you would like to consider becoming a member, the details are on our website at www.collingsparktrust.org/membership-information or just give us a call on 07912 583648 and we'll sort all the necessaries. We look forward to hearing from you!


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£30 or more

£30 Reward

A4 print of one of Richard Allman's stunning drawings of the community garden. Scroll down to the bottom of our project description to see the three views. Please indicate which you would like.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

Collings Park Community Garden tea towel featuring an exclusive drawing of the garden kindly donated by Plymouth-based artist and illustrator Richard Allman Check out his lovely drawings of our garden on our project description and see more of Richard's work at www.Richardallman.co.uk

£15 or more

£15 Reward

Coffee/tea mug featuring the striking Collings Park Community Garden logo.

£20 or more

£20 Reward

A4 print of aerial view of Collings Park Community Garden showing Fortesque Place, Hartley Avenue, Compton Knoll Close and Cranmere Road and the surrounding area. Four views are available kindly supplied by David French at www.devonia.media which you can see at the bottom of our project description. Please indicate which you would like.

£50 or more

Highest donation!

The reward for our biggest donor will be the A3 signed original of Richard Allman's Collings Park Community Garden illustration Allman1 - which you can see if you scroll down our project description. In the event of two or more donors offering the same top amount we will offer each the opportunity to increase their donation to a higher level.

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