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Innermost Gardens’ Co-chair Richard Self, helping to create a garden in an area of dense urban housing (Photographer Anna Jamieson).
Innermost Gardens’ mission statement is ‘Growing community through hands in the soil’—an appropriate motto for a group of volunteers that set up a community garden in Wellington’s Mount Victoria. In this area of urban housing and apartments, the garden provides a space for residents to work the land communally and share knowledge, expertise, and produce.
“We have a core group of about 20 people who participate directly in the running of the garden, and about eight people at our meetings where management decisions are made,” explained Richard Self, one of Innermost Gardens’ Co-chairs. The group counts another 20 volunteers involved in the watering roster, and many more drop-in visitors.
But Richard pointed out that they are gardeners, not administrators. When the Nikau Foundation suggested to Innermost Gardens that they apply for the capacity building scheme provided by The Tindall Foundation, they saw an opportunity for improvement and growth.
We offer capacity building to groups that have been previously supported, either directly or through one of our Funding Managers, like the Nikau Foundation. Since 2009 we have funded these services to almost 150 small community organisations throughout New Zealand. The goals are to help them develop and become self-sustaining, and ensure that funding is effective and achieves long-term benefits for the community.
Capacity building is delivered through Not for Profit Works (NFPWorks), an agency that matches groups with advisers to provide tailored services and expertise in the charity sector. “We are predominantly working with small organisations who have stretched resources and can be quite vulnerable to changes, like key people leaving, for example,” said NFPWorks Director Margot Nicholson.
Innermost Gardens relied entirely on external funding, but had a desire to work towards becoming sustainable. After a meeting and assessment with the group Margot proposed a number of advisers who could help them towards those goals. She explained that different organisations have their own strengths, challenges and needs:
Business consultant Vivien Maidaborn was matched to Innermost Gardens, and worked with them for six months on key points like creating a revenue strategy and setting future direction. “Viv provided an excellent dose of administrative know-how, particularly as we grappled with the demands of taking on a lease for the house on the site, and running it as a venue,” recalled Richard.
Overall, Richard reflected, the capacity building programme has helped to expand their skills and deal with the big issues that Innermost Gardens faces.
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