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Platt Fields Market Garden AGM 2022-2023

On Wednesday the1st Feb we held our first public AGM. Over the last few years we have held AGMS and meeting with stakeholders on site but this year has been the first year we have felt ready to host a public one.

Below I have attached our slides for 2022 - these will also be included in our Impact Report in more detail. This is still in the process of being complied and made to look nice and digestible by Mike. I've also added the minutes and notes and feedback I took down that happened throughout the evening.

We had a nice turn out of around 20 people, all volunteers of the project.

Please note our annual accounts will be filed in May. The figures below are rough.



AGM Presentation - 01_02_2023
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Manchester Urban Diggers AGM Minutes 01/02/2023


Attendees:


Approx 20 including Sam Payne, Mike Hodson, Jo Payne, Dan T, Chels Roberts, Meg Beamish, Lee, Liam, Barbara, Joe H, Sue Dean, Hattie Collins, Simeon, Roxanne, Dan eye, Colin bennett, Rosa, Kieran, Elilee


Please also see the presentation which runs alongside these minutes for more information.


Agenda

19:00 - 19:20 Welcome drinks & introductions

19:20 - 19:30 Last years impact

19:30 - 19:40 Highlights of last year

19:40 - 19:50 MUD (Manchester Urban Diggers) calendar of events

19:50 - 20:00 Break

20:00 - 20:30 PFMG (Platt Fields Market Garden)

Finance

Lease

Plans for this year

CSA & Buyers Club

20:30 - 20:45 Questions & Feedback

20:45 - 21:00 Your ideas



Welcome drinks & introductions


Sam explains that this is MUD’s first AGM and our aim is for those involved in the garden to understand more about what goes on behind the scenes and to have more of a say in things moving forward.


Explanation of MUD’s history and how the CIC (Community Interest Company) and PFMG have developed over time.


Food system change: 3 sides to it - Personal wellbeing, improving the environment, strong communities.


Last years impact


Over 9500 volunteer hours. 1232 free meals.


13 gardens worked on including PFMG, Pankhurst Plot, Mona Street, TEMA, Ashbury Meadows, Dean Trust Ardwick, Shakespeare Gardens, St. Andrew’s Wythenshawe, Ryder Brow Community Allotment, Levenshulme Inspire, Emmeline’s Pantry, MSP.


8 volunteer programs including Bahary Kurdi, One Manchester, PFMG + Pankhurst Plot Open Volunteering, Mona Street, Cinderwood, Gleaning, Community Compost.

4 green wellbeing programs including Nature For Health, RHS Community Wellbeing, Companion Planting, Shakespeare Gardens.


We have run targeted programs to try and involve a wide range of people in our spaces.


10+ community groups using our site include Myco, GGP, Conker Crew, Manchester Bees, Grounded MCR, Childminders, Green Recovery Pathways, Foodwave, Green Woodworking, Cooking With Fire.


Sam discusses Mona Street and other specific projects and grants.


We have harvested a lot of vegetables this year through gleaning. Community compost has mostly businesses dropping off their waste and donating things like spent hops. We have received funding for a larger container for compost.


Green wellbeing programs are mostly for people with mental health struggles to help improve their wellbeing and connect them with their local communities. Funded mostly through the NHS who are steadily increasing their involvement/funding.


Myco, Grounded, Green Woodworking and other community groups are getting more involved with PFMG.


In 2022 50 kg of veg was harvested at PFMG and 5200 kg was gleaned for free meals.


Highlights of last year


Slides of photo highlights from last year. Please see the accompanying presentation.


MUD calendar of events


Calendar shown on the accompanying presentation by month. Tuesdays and Thursdays last year were funded projects which we are trying to get funding for again. Open volunteering Friday will continue ‘no matter what’. Saturday volunteering will happen unless it clashes with specific events.


Regular weekly events included CSA Volunteering Tues, Fri, Sat, Cooking with Fire Tues, Green Woodworking Club Fri, TEMA Intervention/Enrichment and TEMA green spaces Tues and Thurs.


Upcoming one off events include Track Solstice event, Envirolution, Alt Pride Walk, Oktoberfest with Track, Winter Market Gardens. These are fundraisers for MUD/PFMG so we can bring the funds back into our projects. We also plan on entering the RHS flower show again this year, and plan on working with mushrooms this time.


We will be running Envirolution this year for the first time, so any help and support is welcome!


We are planning on only having 2 ticketed events a year, and no more than one large private event in the garden a month max. We are trying to balance community events with private events and ticketed events.


All the events above are subject to change but this is the plan! All will be announced closer to the time on our social media.


Please see the accompanying presentation for more information.


Break


Ideas and suggestions are added with sticky notes to a poster on the wall.


PFMG


Photo shown of the first day on the PFMG site.


Finances


Sam explains a rough overview of some of the costs of running PFMG.


  • PFMG Waste & Pest Control - £3500 / yr

  • Utilities & Lease - ?

  • Garden Maintenance & Infrastructure (tools, seeds, materials, equipment, ppe, labour) - more than £24000 / yr

  • General Kitchen Management (general ingredients, sundries, admin) - £10000 / yr

  • General events (planning, infrastructure, equipment, comms, marketing) - roughly £24000 / yr

  • MUD overheads - e.g. van running costs, public liability insurance, accountants, website & email / IT, general business admin, fundraising

  • Not including any projects that we deliver.

Friday community lunches are part funded part unfunded which is why we ask for donations to help cover the unfunded periods.


New marquee cover was £1000+.


The current way things are run means we struggle every winter due to the seasonality of what we do.


Running a garden is expensive, we have done lots of projects in the past year outside of PFMG which has helped with the continuation of PFMG.


Lease


We have essentially squatted the PFMG site from the beginning although we have been trying to get a lease also from the beginning.


Certain fundraisers will only give us money if we have a lease with 10+ years left on it so we are pushing to get one with more urgency now.


Pros and cons of a lease. Cons - they can hold us to the contract and evict us if they choose to. Pros - ability to access more funds.


We have recently been offered a service level agreement from MCC with an unrealistic offer and are in the process of negotiating with them.


Plans for this year


Key aims for us are to become financially sustainable, maintain our social aims, and smooth out the seasonal highs and lows.

Projects

National Lottery - Strong Roots, Green Shoots - we won a grant for this.

Infrastructure

  • Brick Building - renovation so we can do more catering in better conditions.

  • Orangery - planning permission has been accepted. This would give us more opportunity to run things in bad weather. Plans have been drawn up. The next step is to get a final plan of what we want and put it into planning permission. We have a builder. This would cost 89k. Biffa funding is 75k if we get it and then we’ll try and make up the rest of the funding in other ways. To fundraise for this we need a lease. The building will be made with recycled materials, parts will be replaceable.

CSA & Buyers Club


An idea to help make the garden more financially sustainable. As a member you would have more responsibilities.


  • £10 per month minimum to be a member (Or £0/pay as you feel if you are unwaged)

  • Attend membership meetings to have your say and decide on volunteer projects at the garden

  • Increased volunteers days (e.g. weekends) and opportunities including skills workshops and working on the CSA Market Garden

  • Access to an optional Buyer’s Club, which is where we bulk order produce as a group from organic wholesalers, similar to a food coop.

Benefits of the CSA Membership for PFMG


  • Guarantees a wage for a member of staff to run more volunteering sessions dedicated to food production skills and practice

  • Helps the garden survive through the harder months when income can’t be generated (Winter and The Hungry Gap)

  • Allows for Open Volunteering to cater to other project ideas other than growing

  • Ensures the garden will be open more often and more available to the public

  • Allows for better administration and communication between a membership group

  • Gives members more agency and decision making power over the garden

  • Will allow members to set up their own groups and use the space for their own projects more easily

  • Early bird ticket access & discount for MUD Events (e.g. Beer Festival)

The Buyers Club - how does it work?


  • Only available to Members

  • £5 per month administration fee

  • Get the opportunity to purchase produce from PFMG and our suppliers (Organic North, Cinderwood, Laid Bear etc.) at wholesale prices.

  • Priority on purchasing 50% of the crops from PFMG before they go to general retail (50% goes to MUD Kitchen)

  • Pick up your produce from the garden


Questions & Feedback


Colin - £10 per month for the members club feels quite expensive.


Dan Eye - a membership of £10 a month is more than I pay for my trade union. There would need to be a big benefit for me to feel worth joining. Will there be a hierarchy between members and volunteers? £10 a month feels like more of a cooperative where you have partial control of the company.


Sue - it might be better for members to be able to access discounted veg through PFMG rather than the wholesalers.


Mike and Sam - we would need a much bigger space to be able to produce enough fruit and veg at a competitive enough price to be worth competing with the wholesalers.


Roxanne - is the orangery the best way to spend 89k? Is this building going to take away from other community spaces and centres in the nearby area? Mike - there is not another place in Manchester where you can grow, learn to cook, cook, walk outside with it and eat in a natural space. Colin - agrees that everywhere else is more rural, this is one of the only city centre places. Sue - Brick walls are warm and effective, and much cheaper than the proposed glass building. Dan - Platt Fields Park has a ‘super plan’ coming soon and is a contender for millions of pounds of national lottery fund, we may be able to access some of this.


Roxanne - is there a way we could apply for a grant to subsidise the membership?


Mike - the ultimate goal is to prove a food project can be sustainable without grants. We need as a society to start growing food in cities and we as a small part of this are trying to figure out a way to make this work in the capitalist system we’re in.


Jo - we have the community plots. It is not financially viable for things to go on the way they have been. £10 a month is more like a patreon supporting the cause.


Colin - maybe we can have other non material benefits for the £10 a month membership? It would be nice to be able to rent out the production kitchen like you can at Inspire in Levenshulme. The CSA model is about planning and managing the site. Membership may make this an elitist thing. Let’s have a longer conversation in a quieter place at a different time.


Mike - let’s have a focus group at PFMG. Sam - we are open to other ideas. Currently we’re lurching from grant fund to grant fund and need to find a more sustainable way.


Simeon - Non monetary benefits could include things like workshops, yoga, training, music. Can’t be just veg (not enough space).


Jo - are we putting a price on coming to the garden?


Simeon - Patreon tiers work well because it is discreet, no one feels awkward.


Your ideas


Liam - a more permanent cafe on site would be nice like there is at Fletcher Moss and other parks.


Colin - food for MAAC. They wanted organic eggs so they commissioned a local site to start producing those eggs and as a group they were really connected to this small means of production. The kitchen at PFMG is a strength and a hub.


Thank you everyone for coming!





Notes and Feedback from the AGM


Post it notes were left on tables for everyone to contribute throughout the session.

Jo also spoke to a few people and below is a compilation of these things.


New CSA proposal


Could therebe additional benefits such as yoga etc

Can the members work on the community beds?

Would a membership create a hierarchy between them and other volunteers?

Whats the distinction between vols and memberships?

£10 seems a lot compared to other union/ coop memberships

More focus groups needed and more time to not rush the CSA plans and make sure its right.

Community Grocers you pay £2.50 a week - similar price to that, is there similar projets we can look at to get ideas from?


The Glass Building plans


Is 89k the best use of that money?

Can we do a crowdfunder?

The kitchen could be a community space and a flexible production kitchen for a fee

Does the glass house idea take away from other community assets in the area?

What market research have you done? Look at Wythenshawe park Pineapple Coop

Platt Fields will soon launch a new super plan, how can we be part of this?

Will it increase the risk of vandalism and theft? How will we negate this?


Other PFMG feedback and Events


More gigs, spoken word, creative writing, zine making, screen making, patch making, witch coven, herbalism, and other social activities

Donation box?

Look at food for macc

Sue would lke to help with the mental health festival

Karen would like to help with Envirolution festival

More experienced volunteers would be happy to take on more responsibilities on Fridays

Long covid and post ICU vol programmes

Tell people what ingredients are from the garden

Hive Sauna at the mental health festival

Communication doesn't work well through the website - we have removed the chat recently because of this.

Finish the Pizza Oven with the help of GGP

Cider apple stepover and cordons

Production kitchen to have collaborators

Kitchen not just another cafe but a flexible community space

Outreach to older people and nursing homes








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