Community garden build wins first Volunteer Assembly

Sanel Contreras took part in January's Volunteer Assembly and successfully pitched for £500 to build a community garden at the City Community of Cyrenians in Leith.

Sanel Contreras first had the idea of improving the front garden at the City Community of Cyrenians in Leith during his days as a volunteer. But he struggled to make any big changes. With support from Firstport and the Edinburgh Tool Library (ETL), he had the opportunity to make it happen.

In January 2017, Sanel took part in the Volunteer Assembly – an idea developed by ETL with Firstport and CGI. The Volunteer Assembly is a gathering where volunteers vote on projects proposed by members of the public. On the night, the audience heard proposals for book sharing facilities, mushroom boxes, and a community garden for young people at risk of homelessness. After a very close vote, Sanel’s project to build a garden for the Cyrenians City Community won.

His idea was to renovate the front garden using recycled materials, like pallets. He wanted to get house members involved in the project to encourage them to take pride in and look after their home. The project would also develop their teamwork skills, practical tool work, build useful connections with ETL as well as improve the relationships with next door neighbours.

They worked closely with ETL throughout the project, who helped with sourcing materials and providing the tools and space to get the project going.

The staff and volunteers at the Edinburgh Tool Library have been fantastic in terms of teaching us the skills we needed to build the flower beds and bench from the pallets.

With the funding they were able buy the paint and varnish, the seeds and the garden decorations they needed to complete the project. They have also bought a barbecue to encourage more social activity in the new space and recently held a launch event for everyone who took part in the project.

The project has really brought people together. The teamwork side of things has been great, and it’s created a really positive atmosphere in the house. It’s helped to turn it into a proper home.

Now the project is finished, Sanel is looking to the future.

Doing the pitch was quite scary, but completing the project has been a great experience and I’ll definitely be looking at doing something again in the future.
One of the great things was seeing the results of your hard work at the end. I’d love to encourage more people to get involved and do something similar themselves.

If you have any questions about the above project, you can contact Sanel.

Do you have an idea which could benefit a community in Edinburgh?  We’re working with groups across the capital to find individuals who have a good idea that could benefit their local community.  With some funding and support that idea may strengthen to become something more… More details here.