Sometimes great ideas are really simple ones. Fair Ways now delivers services from 18 separate sites and over the great summer of 2018, the gardens of these properties were extensively used. And so the idea of a fun, inter-service, gardening ‘competition’ was discussed, an email sent out to see what interest there might be, a brilliant response and suddenly ‘Fair Ways in Bloom’ became a thing.
So we drew up our judging criteria:
- Planning & Design
- Innovation and Sustainability
- Service User Involvement
And provided some guidance and a budget of £100 per unit. And of course we appointed our wise and green fingered judges, Dan, Fey, Paul and Lauren.
And what a thing! Who knew we had so many budding gardeners from amongst our staff and service users? And how competitive some can be!
Four services made the grand final and the judges were so impressed with the depth and creativity of the entries that they decided to award each entry a prize with the overall winning unit being our home in Portchester.
Not only did they grow flowers, but in addition a vegetable garden, installed a hen house, pathways, a summer house and a renovated lawn. Soon they were selling the produce to unwitting visitors to reinvest in their scheme. They now have fresh eggs and herbs for cooking within the home. Various staff and service users have each ‘adopted’ plants.
But what impressed the judges most of all across each of the units was the involvement of our service users, from taking responsibility for watering, cutting grass with lawnmowers, weeding and planting, to delivering the presentations on judgement day with a huge pride in their achievements.
In three separate services, our staff remarked that this was the best thing we have ever done. Service users were thoroughly engaged, and the time in the gardens afforded opportunities to really deepen relationships and discuss all sorts of issues. And there is a level of achievement and pride in the creations that we have never seen before.
Roll on next year when Fair Ways in Bloom will be bigger and better.
Sometimes simple ideas are the best. Just ask our finalists. Well done to you all!