Organizational Overview: Collaborative Garden
The Rotary Club of Pleasantville is interested in funding a collaborative garden and community environmental education center in our village. Our club will also participate in the development of the Collaborative Garden and it's programs through the volunteer program. The funds from the grant will be used to fund 4 key areas of the collaborative Garden: on-site composting, developing community education and engagement program, development of a volunteer program, garden pollinators. these projects will be completed by the fall of 2022. The director of the center, Susan Chupungco provided our club with the following proposal (it has been edited for the purposes of this application):
On April 4, 2021 a group of 11 volunteers broke ground on the Collaborative Garden
Project. Our idea was to transform a large lawn in front of a vacant church, owned by the United Methodist Church, into a garden that would produce food for families experiencing food insecurity. Since that time more than 80 individuals have volunteered in the garden producing over 600 pounds of food. Approximately 80% of our produce was donated to local food pantries and feeding programs.
In the seven-months since we started planning for the Collaborative Garden Project we
have become well-known in our community for the work we are doing. Not only is our
garden highly visible drawing passersby to stop over and inquire, we have an active
social media presence, and have had experts in permaculture, gardening, composting,
and more, come alongside our initiative sharing their knowledge and connecting us to
an even greater network of resources and support which have significantly contributed
to our success.
Our project is run on the power of volunteers. This year we have had more than 80 different individuals volunteer at the garden.
After a full season of growing, we are currently getting the garden prepped for winter so
that come spring it will be ready for our crops. Additionally, we are looking to initiate a few projects in order to make our garden more functional, sustainable, and fruitful in the future:
On-site composting, engaging our community through educational classes and
workshops, equipping our volunteers to work independently, and supporting pollinators
by hosting a beehive.
These projects will not only increase our garden yield to feed more families, but will
allow us to reduce both waste and cost, while engaging the community through
education and volunteerism.
The garden produces a decent amount of green waste. We discovered that removing
the waste from the garden is cumbersome due to the location of our gate and our lack
of foresight in what we would do with the materials. We are consulting with a local
master composter to establish an on-site compost system that can handle the green
waste from our entire property. Producing our own compost would not only be an
ecological solution but an economic one as well; we spent $475 on compost in 2021.
This project includes the addition of a gate to our deer fence and building a compost
system using wood and wire mesh. Volunteers would prep the site for the compost area,
help build the bins, and fill them with green waste over the course of a single work day.
2. Community Education & Engagement
Adjacent to the garden are 3-acres of woodland which are also owned by the United
Methodist Church. Volunteers with experience in trailblazing have created a nature trail
that provides the opportunity to teach about the impact invasive species have on our
regional ecosystem as well as how to identify and eradicate them. This project involves
multiple work days completing the trail along with purchasing and installing trail markers
and plant identification signs. We also remove poison ivy before opening the trail to the public.
In the coming season we plan to utilize these experts and the community reputation of
our garden to offer a series of classes on growing food. We have outlined courses and
identified potential instructors for covering subjects such as composting, pollination,
identifying invasive species, harvesting, storing and preserving, foraging, and natural
pest control. We will feature local and regional experts, while utilizing our trained
volunteers to assist learners with related projects in the garden and on the nature trail.
An outdoor seating area comprised of 3 commercial grade picnic tables will
serve as both on outdoor classroom and picnic area for volunteers and visitors.
3. Volunteer Development & Engagement
There are two issues regarding our volunteers - training and access to tools. The
efficacy of our volunteers is currently limited by the number of skilled gardeners we
have directing and teaching our less experienced volunteers and the lack of access to
the tools needed for the work. To mitigate these obstacles we will host a training event
at the beginning of the 2022 garden season and a storage shed will be installed so our
tools and supplies can be securely stored, while remaining accessible for volunteers.
Incorporating a shed into the site would increase our ability to schedule volunteers to
work independently. For this project a pre-built rubbermaid or other similar style plastic
shed would be constructed on-site by volunteers after leveling the site.
4. Garden Pollinators
Lastly, our proposed budget includes installing a beehive for the 2022 season.
Pollinators are necessary for a garden to flourish and produce food, they are also at risk
as their numbers continue to decline. A seasonal installation of a beehive provides four
ways for us to have a positive impact on the garden and community. First, beehives are
immediately recognizable by their signature white wooden structure and draw attention
to our garden; it's incredible publicity. Second, bees fly up to 2 miles away from the hive.
Along the way they pollinate the gardens of our neighbors and support biodiversity in
the area. Third, our beekeeper will lead one or more of our community courses using
the beehive as a teaching tool. Fourth, beehives are fun! People of all ages are drawn
to the beehive and come back to the garden time and again to watch the bees.
-PROJECT BUDGET -
Compost Area $850 (access gate $300, turning forks $100, 3 bin system $450)
Nature Trail $800 (trail markers $100, species identifier signs $200, poison ivy removal $500)
Volunteer Engagement $950 (shed installation $800, volunteer training $150)
Community Engagement $1,600 (advertising $350 outdoor seating $1,250)
Garden Pollinators $800 (beehive installation $800)
Project Total $5,000