One of the biggest hurdles facing many gardening clubs is a lack of resources. Below are a range of ideas for setting up your club without spending a fortune. Please feel free to add any extra ideas you have in the comments section below.
Joining your local Freecycle group is a great way to get your hands on loads of freebies. People post emails offering things they no longer need, but you can also post 'wanted' notices listing things you would love to have - from pots and seeds to tools and plants. If you let people know it's for a local gardening club they are often happy to help.
This is one of the largest items in any garden club budget. Occasionally, you will see one offered on Freecycle but they also go very quickly. Another option is eBay where you can often pick one up for less than £200 but you will usually need to collect, dismantle and construct again.
If you want to go for a homemade option, you can construct your own greenhouse. OK, so you're going to need 1500 plastic bottles but, if this doesn't put you off, there are some instructions here.
These are incredibly useful - particularly for autumn and early spring plantings. You can make your own cloche out of old plumbing pipe or hula hoops plus some horticultural fleece and bamboo canes - more details here.
For individual plants, you can recycle clear plastic bottles - the bigger the better. Simply cut off the base, sand down the rough edges and remove the screw lid (to allow some airflow) and then place them over the plants you want to protect. More info can be found here.
These are a great way to set up your growing space - particularly if your soil is not very good. Raised bed kits are quite expensive, but you can make your own from new timber or old scaffolding planks (try contacting local builders or scaffolding companies to see if they have any they no longer need). There are some instructions here and here.
Seed-sharing scheme - The cost of seeds can soon add up, so why not contact other gardening clubs and set up a seed sharing scheme? A central fund can be set up to buy seed packets, with these then being split between groups. As many seeds are packed in their hundreds, this can be a very cost effective option.
Seed saving - Don't forget you can also save your own seeds. This is a great way to teach children about a plant's lifecycle at the same time as saving money. You will need to let one or two of your healthiest plants 'run to seed' - for example, this means allowing a lettuce to 'bolt', flower and then set seed.
You can also apply for FREE wild seed kits from Grow Wild - perfect for starting a pollinators/wildflower patch at school.
Lesson plans/ fact sheets
There are plenty of lesson plans and teaching resources to download on the web including:
- RHS - Campaign for School Gardening
- The Great Plant Hunt - 'Following in Darwin's Footsteps' - EYFS to Yr 6 lesson plans
- Countryside Classroom
- Woodland Trust - KS2 and KS3 resources to teach about woods and trees
- Wildlife Trusts - many of the trusts offer lesson plans and other resources including:
- Somerset Wildlife Trust
- The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales
- Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
- Devon Wildlife Trust - Bees
- Avon Wildlife Trust - Filming Wildlife
- Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - Wild About York
- Wildlife Watch activity sheets
- Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust - Learning to love heathland
- Warwickshire Wildlife Trust - creating a wildlife garden
- TES Lesson Plans on Gardens
- Harrod Horticulturals' Budding Gardeners
Vouchers and schemes
- RHS - Campaign for School Gardening - sign up for benchmarking, free start up kit, free seeds and access to regional advisors
- Harrod Horticultural - up to 15% discount for schools on Budding Gardeners site
- Woodland Trust - free native trees or hedgerow plants for schools
- Tree Appeal - free native trees for school
- UK Oak Doors - free trees for school, colleges and universities
- Victoriana Nursery - 20% discount on seeds and 10% on equipment for schools
- Potato Council - free potato growing kit for schools
Try approaching local businesses, particularly nurseries, landscape suppliers or garden centres, to see if they can offer any sort of discount, sponsorship or donation to your gardening club. It is worth clearing this with the school in advance and checking if they have any existing corporate sponsors who could be contacted.
If you are writing to any companies, make sure you call and check the correct person you should address your request to and be prepared to follow up with a phone call. Even better, you could ask children to write the letters as part of a KS2 literacy lesson.
It is also worth letting potential sponsors know how their support will be acknowledged - for example in a newsletter distributed to all parents - and that you will be contacting the local media to publicise the donation.
Hands on Help
Setting up an initial garden area can require a lot of hard work. There are various organisations that you can appeal to for volunteer help for this:
You can contact BITC office (Business in the Community) to see if your project can attract volunteers to help as part of Give & Gain Day.EMployee Volunteering
The Conservation Volunteers
If you need extra help with a project you can give your local Conservation Volunteers office call and they can usually provide a team from their regular volunteers.
Community Payback is a punishment for offenders involving tough, physical work on projects that benefit the community and you can request a project for consideration usually via your local probation service.
As well as traditional fundraising activities (lots of inspiration here), you can look at garden-themed ideas:
- Plant and produce sales - this can be tied to an enterprise element - perhaps as part of a Gifted and Talented or Gardening Club activity
- Guess the number of sunflower seeds in a jar
- Open gardens weekend (ask parents to volunteer their own)
Awards For All
A lottery grants scheme for grants from £300-£10,000 - for local organisations including schools.
B&Q Community Reuse
B&Q donates unsellable products and materials for re-use by local schools, other educational institutions and community groups, for the benefit of the local community and the environment. For more information contact your local store directly and speak to a duty manager.
BBC Children In Need
Provides grants to benefit disadvantaged children and young people - small grants up to £10k for one year only or large grants of over £10k/year for up to three years.
Awards projects which help rebuild biodiversity and provide places for outdoor recreation (which can include such things as community gardens or woodland walks). The Small Grants Scheme (SGS) offers grants between £250 and £10,000; the Main Grant Scheme (MGS) offers grants between £10,000 and £50,000. Your project must also be based within 15 miles of a Biffa Operation and 10 miles of a licenced landfill site.
Big Lottery Fund Community Programme
Community based programmes to bring the local community together and improve the lives of the people that live within it. There are particular categories for local communities and community wildlife.
DM Thomas Foundation for Young People
Funding is for the most effective projects helping disadvantaged young people in the UK and Ireland.
Ernest Cook Trust
Provides grants of between £100 and £4000 (in small grants category) for the education of young people about the environment and countryside.
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
Aimed at improving the quality of life in the UK, including grants for environmental projects and those involving children and young people.
Grants of up to £3000 for state schools and local groups in the areas near Ford plants in Essex (including East London), St Albans, Bridgend (South Wales), Southampton, Daventry, Manchester as well as initiatives in which Ford Motor Company Limited employees and retirees are involved
A free resource which lists thousands of funding and finance opportunities.
Grow Wild is awarding funding of £1,000 to £4,000 to community groups that want to bring people together to transform a communal space by sowing and growing UK native plants.
Registered charities* in England, Scotland & Wales can apply from £500 - £20,000 (£10,000 in Wales) for projects including those supporting healthy living initiatives.
Sita Trust - England
Funding awards up to £50,000 for not for profit organisations wishing to improve access for nature or leisure and recreation facilities for the benefit of the general public. Project must be within a three mile radius of a qualifying SITA UK waste processing location (check here).
Sita Trust - Scotland
http://www.sitatrust.org.uk/scotland Funding awards up to £50,000 for not for profit organisations in the areas of land reclamation, community recycling, public amenities and biodiversity. Project must be within a qualifying radius of a SITA waste processing location (check here).
Tesco Community Champions
Each Tesco UK store holds a community donation budget to help support with requests from their community for local fundraising events. To be considered for a donation please write to the Community Champion at your nearest store (Find your local store).
Tesco Local Community Grants
Administered by Groundwork, the money raised by Tesco customers in plastic bag tax will be used for grants to improve green spaces in communities across England, Wales and Scotland. Projects that will get the green light as a result of the funding will include creating pocket parks, sports facilities, woodland walks, school grounds, hospice grounds and community gardens.
The Conservation Foundation
Offers yews to plant, refurbished tools (you can apply if in Cornwall, Devon, Edinburgh, Lincolnshire, London and Oxfordshire) and Wessex Watermark funding which can give a school, parish council or community organisation a grant of £100-£1500 for an environmental project located within the Wessex Water region - you can check if you are by viewing the map.
The National Gardens Scheme Elspeth Thomspon Bursary
An annual bursary fund is available to provide financial assistance to amateur gardeners, either individuals or community groups, to enable them to create a garden or horticultural based project for the benefit of the community, or to enable them to acquire horticultural knowledge and skills and to develop and share their love of gardening. Grants would not normally exceed £5000.
Trusthouse Charitable Foundation
Foundation provides grants for a range of projects addressing rural issues and urban deprivation with a focus on healthcare and disability, community support & education and the arts.
Waitrose Community Matters
Waitrose's Community Matters initiative supports a wide range of charities and community groups. Each branch of Waitrose has £1,000 to share out between three local good causes each month. The scheme will consider supporting welfare organisations, community groups, schools or local divisions of national charities. To find out more about the scheme visit your local store, which you can find by clicking on the link above.