With a mixture of guerilla gardening, work with Merseyrail, three orchards in local parks, planters outside shops, two church yards, and three ‘use of garden’ arrangements, IEH is certainly putting this message into practice.
Their hands-on approach has also been the key to galvanizing community support. Sally said: “The best way of involving volunteers has been actually doing the job ourselves. It also helps to have some knowledgeable enthusiasts, for example, allotment holders who can take a lead or step in if need be.
“There is a huge range of personal circumstances, motivations and skills, so patience is helpful!
Focus on success
She added: “Keep focusing on successes. However small our group and others like us are, the great pleasure is the community spirit and staying open to a wide variety of people and ideas.
“The positive impact has been very varied, depending on the situation, but in each of our 24 small growing spaces, we have generated conversations and community feeling, we have regulars who pick the crops, as well as lots of passing interest and have improved the look of the site in question.
Sally is not keen on depending on the so called 'experts'. She said: “Experts and research may be costly of time, if not money, so will probably inject delay. Consultation may undermine the attitude of ‘we can do it, we can learn’, they may not also be as tuned into guerilla gardening and working ‘odd’ little patches. Instead, Google is pretty useful and so is learning from mistakes!
Sources of income
In terms of funding, IEH has accessed grants from their local council for orchard trees, tools and loads of topsoil. Merseyrail’s financial support has also been very helpful. Additionally, the group has three local collecting boxes and asks for donations at meetings. Giving talks is another source of income.
Like its plots, IEH is maturing but Sally is not complacent. She said: “We are still learning as we go along, and we need more planning now.
“We have maintained political neutrality and as far as possible avoided local tensions and ‘in-fights’ . Take a lot of care to nurture all the relationships as well as plants!”