Community gardening projects have become more and more popular in recent years, particularly for growing fruit and vegetables. Many of you will have read that Bulldog Tools are involved in the sponsorship of various projects as part of Capital Growth and The Big Dig as well as supplying tools for other charitable gardening communities alongside schemes for kids like the RHS ‘Tools for Schools’ initiative.
Many of these groups struggle to get funding and rely on grants, charities and donations, often meaning that money is tight. We appreciate that although essential, good quality garden tools are expensive and that very few projects can afford to have a full set of tools for every gardener involved. However, if a collective set of decent tools is shared sensibly between members and volunteers, it can be enough to ensure that all jobs get done properly. So rather than buying six spades so that your community team can all dig at once, why not consider staggering the work on your plot so that while you have two members digging, two can be forking over the soil and two members raking the tilth to remove any stones and level the sowing area.
Sharing tools within a group can be a really useful strategy for communal and community gardens, allotments, school gardens, and even in small residential neighbourhoods. These kinds of sharing require some management and cooperation but if looked after correctly with tools being cleaned, sharpened and oiled as necessary before being returned, there is no reason why a collective tool store can’t become a money saving success. Other benefits of tool sharing schemes include being able to pool resources and buy fewer tools, but of a superior quality rather than higher quantities of cheaper items and groups using a single store to house tools rather than multiple sheds, allowing the community to spend a little more on security for that one important location.
If this idea appeals to you for the gardening group you are involved with the next step should be to ask yourself which type of tools will be most useful to your horticultural community. For example a vegetable growing project will require cultivating tools like spades, forks, trowels and hoes – adding pruning tools like secateurs, loppers and a saw if fruit growing is involved. Similarly, if you are looking after a communal garden with lawns, paths, hedges and borders you will want to add rakes, a spiking fork, an edger and hedge shears to your selection alongside any appropriate power tools which may be needed. Projects with children will require sets of quality children’s tools as well as adult versions for teachers and helpers.
Many groups will not be able to get away with purchasing just one of each type of tool, but even in a busy community garden like an allotment when a number of plot holders will want to dig, hoe and rake at similar times of year, with some sensitive planning and cooperation a schedule can be arranged to suit everyone. A simple sign in and out system can help make sure that tools are always accounted for and do not ‘disappear’ when the store is open.
We hope that next time you need some new tools for a community gardening project you will consider trying a tool sharing scheme – not only will you save some money, but you might also get to know your fellow diggers a bit better!