Who are you and where do you work?
My Name is Zoe Stanmore and I am the community champion and Cultivation Street ambassador at Dobbies Southport
What does being an Ambassador mean for you?
Everything! I get to meet some amazing community groups and help them where possible to create a place where people can meet, garden and generally have fun. I feel that being outside, be it in your own space or in a community space, is not only good for the body but also the mind
I’m lucky to have made so many friends along the way; it’s even given me the boost to start a community space within the grounds of my workplace - The Little Seedlings Community Garden. This is all down to the support from my employers, Cultivation Street - the relationships that you can build and the confidence to say ‘we can do this’
With being part of our community garden, I can now see first-hand how simple tasks can be often be a struggle for other community groups. I never realised until taking on this role what a difference volunteers make to our green spaces and communities
Tell us about how you have interacted with schools or communities so far?
I was contacted by a lady who runs a local after school club not far from our Garden Centre, where the children learn about the environment and grow their own fruit and vegetables. Sadly, this group had very limited funds, so this is where I could help
Dobbies were pleased to let them have some recycled pots and trays and I managed to secure some seeds from Thompson & Morgan
As we were also disposing of some old wooden benches, I asked if we could donate these to the group and now they have been re-purposed as raised beds for the children to use. We also run our own community garden, so I had resources I could share and managed to get them some plants that we had grown
Also, by using funding from our own ‘Helping your Community Grow’ initiative we were also able to donate compost and other items to get them started and plan the year ahead
With my support they decided to enter a local Flower Show competition, with the idea of making a Fairy Garden. The theme was to dress a wheel barrow and I made the fairies and the store donated some alpines for them to use - I’m very pleased to say they came 1st
What ideas, plans, or projects, if any, do you have in the pipeline?
In our own community garden, we have massive plans! We are looking at taking over more space and this would allow us to have more themed educational areas
The children are already planning what they would like to grow, and some have already started their plants off at home
We still want to link up with the schools and communities, but I would like to engage with even more to help them get a space to call their own
What would you like to see in your area from community and school gardening?
I would love for each school to have a space to learn about the environment and have access to grow their own fruits and veg
I want communities to have the space to sit, watch the nature around them; form friendships with like-minded people and get outside
We have such wonderful spaces that sadly get overlooked but if we all worked and supported each other then we can make Southport look amazing
Do you have any quick tips for other Ambassadors on how to engage with schools and communities?
Yes. Check your supermarket notice boards, other store community champions will share events that are going on in your area
Contact your local council as they will tell you of volunteer groups that work in your area and also speak to local schools or check their websites as most schools these days will have after school clubs. These are a brilliant start to engage children in healthy eating and taking care of their environment
Even contact residential homes. Just because someone is elderly or in a home it doesn’t mean they won’t want to garden anymore and your email/ phone call could be the start of something amazing for them
If possible hold an ‘Awareness Day’ for any groups or individuals who are looking for volunteers for their community or group – maybe add a car wash, BBQ or cake stall to help with funding?
Also keep a book with every groups’ information and a short description of what they do - I’m certain that you will come across one group who may be able to support another
Create a notice board in your own workplace asking groups to contact you for support or information and, of course, spread the word and get them to sign up to Cultivation Street!
Dobbies Garden World
Tel: 01704 552920 https://www.dobbies.com/find-a-garden-centre/southport/
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