The project started in 2011 when the Community Council acted on a demand from residents to start allotments. Through community consultation, it was agreed that, rather than 20-30 allotment sized plots for established gardeners, it was preferable to create “micro-plots” for more people in order to reintroduce growing skills in more people, and to create a “hub” space to address social issues such as loneliness and environmental issues such as food waste.
BCG is a membership organisation, with a variety of membership levels, from independent access to the garden to enjoy the space to hiring a raised bed for growing fruit and vegetables. All tools, seeds, soil, etc is included in BCG membership – all members have to do is turn up and grow. Members are required to commit to a minimum of ten hours each per year in “Maintenance Hours”. There are three “skill categories” by which tasks are categorised – gardening (weeding, propagating, etc), organising (skill sharing, event running, fundraising, etc) or maintaining (fixing raised beds, composting, etc) and volunteers are assigned according to skills and abilities.
Members are also encouraged to undertake volunteering opportunities within the garden to assist with maintenance, community outreach and member events. This has led to monthly members BBQs during the growing season and various community events, including an annual Horticultural Show and a Halloween Pumpkin Festival. There are also a number of “clubs” developing in the garden, such as a “propagating club” which meets at the weekend and grows seedlings for sale to members and as a fundraising opportunity with an annual plant sale in May. There are craft clubs, beer clubs, after school clubs and beekeeping clubs, all run by members for members.