GMCA Project update


Ground work progress

We have been busy working on 2 aspects of the project.

 a)    Developing the model.

One of the key results from our initial research and scoping exercise has been our finding that pantries and other ‘austerity retail’ initiatives in Stockport and beyond  have an urgent need for regular donations  of  good quality nutritious ready meals to supplement their dwindling supplies of surplus food.

 We have therefore reconfigured the project to focus on community payback grown fresh produce for the production of ready meals for donation to pantries and for sale in commercial markets  to generate funds for the pantries – supplementing their  dwindling supplies of  surplus food with non surplus ready meals and generating funds to buy-in non-surplus food supplies to do likewise.

 We have formed a project board co-chaired by ourselves and greater Manchester probation in order to pilot this new model in Stockport and then deliver a staged roll out across greater Manchester, working with people on probation to grow fresh produce and manufacture ready meals for donation to austerity retail initiatives and for sale to raise funds for them.

 b)    Project Development in Stockport

The Garden House partnership with the Community Payback Scheme has been a hugely positive relationship so far. The work team arrive on site promptly each week and get stuck in to the day's tasks, completing what is asked and using skills to ensure everything is to a high standard. The work team communicate well with Kevin and The Garden House volunteers. A key positive is the overall sense of responsibility and forward thinking as they plan out the garden plot, and are able to see progress as the weeks go on. This is testament to the team as this initial stage is very labour intensive. 

 It’s manual work, outside, completed in all weathers. The work team communicate with Marple volunteers to adapt and problem solve, considering practical ways of ensuring the community garden will be user-friendly. This partnership has increased manpower and generated ideas to enable us to progress the project quickly. 

 The next stage of the project is crucial to both the community garden and its volunteers. With the infrastructure in place, the true transformation will occur during the planting and growing season. It is especially important to us as a charity supporting people with mental and physical health challenges, or disadvantaged for socio-economic reasons that our volunteers can see the results and impact of their labour as an important reflection on their personal achievements and progress. Having seen the progress and commitment shown by the Community Pay Back team it would be hugely beneficial for the workers to be involved in the next stages and beyond as the garden comes to life and brings joy to growers and volunteers.