MAYO Community Garden – Money Matters – by Gail Stubber

MAYO CG Part 2- Community Garden Money Matters

This has to be one of the most time consuming issues of a Community Gardens working group.  So much time and air is spent on talking about, working out what to do with money, where to find the money and lastly how to separate it up to get the most for any cash which appears.

There are so many small and large items on the budget list from incorporating and insuring the garden, to soil, shade or shed.  Some items are a must, some a fancy and some a long term dream. They all should be put on the wishlist no matter how far fetched as you never know when a wish can become a reality. Our Mayo C.G. has had limestone rocks on the wishlist since the beginning of the year and, by chance, found someone knocking down a limestone wall, tapped them on the shoulder and asked for the rocks. So the job for making our terraced walls out of limestone has been pushed up the worklist as we now have our lovely ‘bundies’.

Other ongoing costs are not as easy to find. Electricity, water, reticulation and insurance need to be budgeted and should be covered by fees.  Very few grants will cover these cost however, a number of Councils will help out with some of these.  Check your Council early and find out from them how much of a partnership they are willing to enter into.  Usually they will give over the site for a small rental and cover the rates but they may not want to help with water and electricity.  These can be costly if not watched over.

Wishlist items – a lot of these can be scrounged.  We are finding yahoo group), Gumtree and the PermacultureWest site good for finding free items.  We have found bricks and pavers so far.  Bunnings is another go to place – they have community officers who will help with some of the basics.  We have had cement, plants and thanks to Cottesloe Bunnings, a workshed.  We have been able to get free mulch from C Wise Soils and core matting for beds from Garbologie.  There is a certain amazement which happens when you ask for things for a Community Garden.  West Australian’s seem to want to help, give and be a part of these amazing sites and so are happy to help or find someone who will help.  Skip bins are not able to be taken from unless the person filling it is asked. Taking items out is classed as theft and some of the landscapers do get money for the bricks/items in the skip and resent people taking things out.  Asking is always the best policy.

Partnering with local businesses – such as Bunnings – can also be a worthwhile way of finding some of the big ticket items and also the day to day running items.  Once you are an established garden – selling veges through the local deli or to a local restaurant is a good way to supplement income.  But be aware that not all partnerships work evenly and you do not want to be blindsided and left with the feeling of being used.  One garden has had a lot of filming done on their set up work and have received nothing for the documentary.  Just a number of days of disruption.

If you can’t find it on the street, from a landscape gardener, your local Bunnings or from the internet then a grant may be the next port of call.  There are a number of grants available to Community Gardens, either established or starting out.

The State government – Local community grant is a good one to cut your teeth on but very hard to obtain.  This year they gave out 8 grants to 102 applications.

LotteryWest is a great source of grant money for infrastructure – whether under the building section or sometimes the historical section.

A great web page is the Our Community site which is updated monthly  but it does cost $85 for a membership.

There are also many grants available for heritage listings, so if you have an old site with some interesting structures on it – this could help you to keep it and make it a major feature of your garden.  Also if you want to invite disabled people to be a part of the community, then there are grants available to establish an area friendly for their needs.  Community gardens are a venue for waste minimisation, healthy food and lifestyle education, and multi-national community building so look into all those areas for grant opportunities.

Putting in for grants is a long business.  It needs a few people to work together and get their heads around the budgeting.  Strict budgeting is a strong requirement of achieving a good outcome,  as is the need to show how many community hours have already been spent on the garden, what sort of community involvement has already taken place and what are future plans for the garden.  It seems a silly, tedious process to start with but the rigour of doing this will help sort out a good plan for the garden and will centralize the funding ideas and budget.  A good process for the future.

So finding funds and items to make your garden grow can be fun.  Looking around for recycled goods adds interest to drives and also adds character to the garden.  Grant funding is essential for big ticket items if you can’t find a partner or are particularly good a fund raising so getting a team together to learn how to tackle the paperwork is a must.

Some Web sites to visit:

ACFCGN’s fact sheets

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