Lovely to meet you!
Hi, my name is Tania Angelis and I am a passionate organic gardener and plantswoman. For over 30 years I have held a dream in my heart to create a way to earn a living from growing plants using organic and sustainable practices and principles.
Over the past 12 months I have left the corporate world behind and have begun to build a business based on my biggest passion in life - gardening and growing plants. For the last 2 years I have specialised in transforming overgrown gardens into beautiful spaces, all the while being gentle with the soil, plants and wildlife.
The Fragrant Garden is a social enterprise that will have 3 key elements to it:
* A specialist plant nursery selling fragrant and edible plants
* A vegan/vegetarian cafe
* An organic urban farm that grows fruit, vegetables, herbs, salads and field crops
The Plant Nursery
The plants that are sold in the nursery will be predominantly grown on site - over time the aim is for 100% of the plants sold in the nursery to be grown on site, using organic growing methods in peat free growing mediums. At first, we will have to buy in some plants, but gradually they will all carry The Fragrant Garden's logo.
The nursery will also be one of the first nurseries in the UK to become single use plastic free.
* Peat free compost and other growing media will be supplied in reusable, durable sacks that can be brought back to the nursery for refilling.
* Plant fertilisers and other liquids will be sold in glass bottles that can be brought back for refilling.
* All plants will be placed in cardboard plant pots at the time they are sold. These can then either be planted into the ground with the plant where they will biodegrade, or they can be placed in the mixed recycling bin.
It is also planned to offer recycling facilities for local people to bring their old plant pots and other garden plastic waste to us. We will either use them ourselves in the polytunnels where we grow the plants, or if they are damaged, we will send them for post-consumer recycling. Our local council does not currently offer this service either kerbside or through its recycling centres, so we plan to be a place where people can come and do their bit for the environment.
The nursery will also become one of the first nurseries to offer plants for sale that are both organic AND grown in a peat free medium.
The Rose Cafe
The Rose Cafe will be a place where people can gather and see the work of the nursery and farm at first hand. The menu will be predominantly vegan with vegetarian options, showing just how nourishing and tasty a plant based diet really is.
The cafe will be a place where seasonal produce that is grown on site will be used to create the menu, so it will change each month. It will also show people how to make the most of those seasonal gluts.
There will be a kitchen garden to supply the cafe, which will be a place where volunteers and staff alike will tend to the plants and harvest them ready for use.
The Rainbow Building
The Rainbow Building will provide our service users with a private space where they can relax, have a drink or snack and enjoy some time away from the busyness of the farm and cafe. If they are having a difficult day, it will provide them with a space away from home where they can simply be by themselves to allow those emotions to process in a safe way.
There will also be a separate teaching room which can be hired out by local groups for events, classes and seminars. It will also be used to host events such as workshops for children to learn about sowing seeds and growing plants.
Over time it is anticipated that cooking masterclasses will be offered, showing people how to make the most of the seasonal produce they have grown either on site on in their own gardens/allotments.
Hope Farm will be a 4.5 acre urban farm using polytunnels and open ground to grow a variety of crops. The plan is to create a veg box scheme serving the local area (delivery will be in an electric van to reduce the impact of the van on the environment).
The farm will use modern methods such as vertical growing and aquaponics while also using organic principles at the same time. Use of machinery will be kept to a minimum to reduce damage to the soil - the foundation of the food chain.
I believe that our food system needs to become much more community based again. I believe that it can feed people AS WELL AS support wildlife. I believe that gardens can be places of beauty and tranquility while providing spaces for all kinds of wildlife to thrive - birds, insects, invertebrates, mice, frogs, toads, newts and lots more besides. I have seen all of these in gardens that I have cared for.
The farm will provide both staff and volunteers with opportunities to learn about market gardening under cover and outside in a field situation.
Taking Care of the Planet
The site as a whole will also be surrounded by newly planted native hedging to provide food, shelter and protection for wildlife.
Rain water will be gathered on site, solar panels and wind turbines will be installed to provide power - all of which will contribute to the business's aim of being sustainable in every way. All grey water will be recycled on site through reedbed systems or something similar.
Reclaimed materials will be used as much as possible on site - donations of timber, bricks, doors, windows, toilets and sinks have already been received. There will be electric car charging points in the car park as well.
Taking Care of People
The Fragrant Garden will offer places to people who need some extra support through the social prescribing programme currently being rolled out through NHS England.
To this end, there will be a central space where a sensory garden will be created to provide a peaceful place for people to come and immerse themselves in the natural world.
There will also be a series of mini allotments that people can use to grow their own plants and to learn best practices from the staff on site. The kitchen garden will offer a communal learning experience where both staff and volunteers will help to care for the plants before they are harvested and used in the cafe.
I have had several different forms of depression myself since my early teens and without a doubt being outside in Nature and in the garden has helped me to come into a place of stability. It has also left me with a passionate desire to help others find that place too.
The money that I am seeking - £10,000 - will enable me to approach the owner of the land that I have identified with an offer to rent 5 acres of land - part of a large field that is currently not being actively used.
It will also enable me to pay legal and professional fees to help ensure that the planning application that will need to be made succeeds.
I have been developing the business plan and cashflow forecast for the business and these, too, will be completed as part of the approach to both the landowner and the local council.
The Fragrant Garden will be creating 3 full time roles immediately on opening, and over time at least a further 8 jobs will also be created - it is anticipated that more will be created as the business grows and expands.
Human activity is having a massive impact on our planet, and I am looking for a way to build a food based business that does not require stripping out precious habitats in order to serve its community.
I have been busy gathering over the last year. Gathering people, gathering clients, gathering information, gathering supporters, gathering ideas.
In that time my ideas for The Fragrant Garden have crystallised into something that will provide a space for people recovering from mental and/or physical health challenges to reconnect with themselves and the community, in their own time and in their own way as well as providing a place for food crops to be grown sustainably and for garden plants to be grown with love and respect.
Above all, The Fragrant Garden is
* For people
* For plants
* For the planet
I would love it if you felt able to contribute to this project, no matter how large or small a contribution.