Green Shoots: Why the Hub starts with a garden

Over the coming weeks and months you’re going to start to see some changes at the entrance to the village. The hub team, after lots of hard work and setbacks are finally going to start making some visible progress. I’m writing to let you know what’s happening next, how this fits into the bigger plan, and what you can do to help.

Our Hub team’s mission has always been to “Establish a new hub development at the entrance the village for the benefit of everyone who lives, works and plays in Lochgoilhead. Our hub will grow food, grow businesses and grow our community by providing an inspiring setting for conversation, commerce and cake.”

We started out tackling this mission with a bold attempt to raise money from the Big Lottery. We envisioned a fantastic new building, designed and built with the latest eco-friendly techniques, with space for a cafe, shop and work units. A space that the community could be proud to call our own.

We worked hard to make this vision a reality, and it was a long slog of over two years of funding applications, feasibility studies, interview panels, community consultations and more funding applications before they finally told us they had other projects they deemed more worthy. We were disappointed but vowed not to give up.

As we discussed what to do next, and how to make best use of the tremendous gift of the old rifle club ground, it became clear that we needed to start with a phased approach. We don’t intend on  letting go of that vision, but we want to work towards it in steps that are more manageable and that start to give our community real benefits today.

We know that people miss the sociability of the old costcutter shop, and that the last village action plan showed the desire for a cafe and shop. So why are we starting with a community garden?

The community garden

The hub team’s current focus is to set up 10 raised-bed gardening plots on the old rifle club ground, this will involve surveying and digging drainage channels to the site, improving access and signage, clearing the riverbank and fixing the old curling club cabin, ready to start growing as soon as possible. We’re also going to set up a composting scheme. We’ve managed to persuade the forestry commission to donate the wood for building the beds, and we’re organising a series of activity days.

We’ll be making plots available to rent in the manner of Kilfinnan Community Forest’s Kyles Allotment Group (http://www.kilfinancommunityforest.co.uk/gogreen-kag.php) and other similar schemes. All money raised will go back into running and expanding the garden. We’re organising a research trip to visit Kilfinan on 27th January 2018. Please contact team@goilhub.com to sign up for a place.

Our hope is that the hub garden can provide a catalyst to bring together everyone who shares our belief that the future of this planet lies in communities like ours taking action to increase our self-sufficiency. The garden will be a friendly, welcoming place that gives people another venue to socialise in. We’re looking forward to cultivating plans and schemes as well as yummy veggies.

Plans and ambitions

Starting small with a few raised beds doesn’t mean we’re not ambitious. We know there is still demand for work units both for creative makers and digital nomads. We know people would still like somewhere to get a decent cup of coffee and some home-made cake.

Once the community garden is established and up and running, we’d like to expand it to provide some indoor growing space. We have a greenhouse in storage that was kindly donated by Marion and Rory McCune, and would love to erect that next summer.

We believe that with some modest funding, the old curling shed can be refitted and extended to provide cafe and shop space. In the meantime we’ll investigate using shipping containers to provide commercial space for rent.

Although we’ll be evolving the site as time and budget allows, our team architect Anna Wynne has an overall plan for how everything fits together and we’ll all work hard to make sure the site looks tidy and makes a great statement about our community.

There are also other options within the village that could be developed to meet some of these same needs. Over the summer a property on the sea-front came onto the market which we thought had the potential to be developed into a community cafe and shop. We made a funding application to the Scottish Land which was rejected but they did leave the door open for a re-application. We’re a small team, most of us with young families and busy lives, and we lack the capacity to work on many different fronts at once. If you’re interested in helping with the funding application and business planning paperwork needed to make the cafe a reality, please get in touch.

Get in touch

We’d love your help with:

  • Researching and making funding applications
  • Physical work on the garden and site
  • Sourcing site materials
  • Sharing gardening expertise

Please get in touch with team@goilhub.com if you’d like to rent one of the raised beds, help out, or just to give us your support and encouragement.

Date for your diary:

  • Research trip to Kilfinan community forest on 27th January 2018. Sign up for a place by emailing team@goilhub.com
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s