Another open day, this time in the boiling heat on a teachers strike day.
Let’s just say it was manic – and a little bit magical.
The idea of our annual open day isn’t about raising money (thankfully the Fonthill Foundation and Pebble Trust sponsored it) or even raising awareness – although of course we’re more than happy if both these things happen. What it’s really about is to give those we support the chance to be in charge while visitors get to learn about what we get up too, hunt for bugs and bees, put a chicken on their head or discover what’s lurking in our ponds. They might even get to eat some soft fruit.
We always hold a user group meeting in the Bevy community pub a month before to find out what our volunteers want to do on the day and any ideas to improve it. Tombola you say! And no Paul you’re not working on the cafe cos you ate all the cakes last time.
Meanwhile emails were sent to Brighton Aldridge Community Academy to get permission for pupils to come and help demonstrate the primitive technology skills they’ve been learning or put some volunteer hours on their Duke of Edinburgh awards or hone their catering skills by helping serve up hundreds of pizzas.
For some of the younger ones from Moulsecoomb Primary they helped with the chickens and went pond dipping and bug hunting. And no doubt stuffed themselves full of homemade cake when we weren’t looking.
So the open day is not just a window into our work but an opportunity for the wide variety of people who come to the garden to feel part of a community and proud of the work they do. To build their confidence and skills.
And for the youngsters we work with. Well these are the environmentalists, countryside rangers, wildlife conservationists and outdoor teachers of the future and we need more from working class backgrounds to shake up the second most middle class profession in the country.
So support our work and let’s make sure everyone in our city gets the same opportunities to shine.
* A simple way to support our work is to become a Friend of the Forest Garden with a monthly donation.