TOSH Community Garden: Meet Garden Project Coordinator, Melinda McCheyne

"The best way to spend an afternoon is working and chatting together in the garden, swapping skills and knowledge." Read all about 'The Orchard Garden' Project Coordinator, Melinda Mccheyne.

With just a month to go before we open the gates of The Orchard Garden to our community for our Summer Celebration, it's finally time we introduce you to the woman leading it all... Melinda McCheyne!

With a background in community, arts, nature, and produce growing, Melinda has not only led the transformation of our once neglected green space at TOSH, but also offered a wealth of knowledge and advice to the local community through our garden growing programme.

Read all about Melinda's role in The Orchard Garden, as well as her intentions for the Garden Skills Summer Series, and what it could offer for our local community.

Who are you?

Hi, I'm Melinda, an arts professional with a special interest in community, art, nature and growing food. I moved to the south coast 21 years ago and love living by the sea, but also close to the New Forest. I really feel embedded in my community here now, whether that is the arts community, my neighbourhood community, or the gardening and growing community. And lots of these communities overlap!

What does your role as Community Garden Coordinator entail?

The aim of the project was to improve The Orchard Garden so that our community can enjoy, meet, grow, learn and play, or rest in it. We consulted with members of the local community to ask for their vision of what that would look like. These ideas were translated into a beautiful design by our Landscape Architect. 

With the help of my colleagues at TOSH, we gathered members of our community to help build the garden- with lots of creative learning and growing opportunities along the way. My job was to make the whole garden build process happen from beginning to end, but also to create a learning and creative nature programme alongside that.

What do you love most about the role?

Meeting our community! The best way to spend an afternoon is working and chatting together in the garden, swapping skills and knowledge. I have also really enjoyed meeting and making with the members of our regular TOSH community groups, who have created beautiful tiles to go around our new seating circle, waterproof cushions to sit on, and bunting to decorate the garden. I have met many members of our wider BCP community at our Garden Skills workshops where we have shared lots of gardening tips and knowledge together.

Why have you chosen to introduce the Garden Growing Talks & Workshops?

Gardening can be scary for absolute beginners, so it is great to have someone to share their knowledge to help you start, or improve on, your gardening journey. 

How are these talks & workshops relevant in today’s climate?

In our workshops we try to show how you can garden easily whilst being friendly to nature. We also show how you can produce lots of food, or flowers for bees, for free or with little cost, often using recycled or shared products. For example growing salad or herbs in a pot on your windowsill or outside your door is a really satisfying, cheap and easy way to grow pesticide free, low cost food with zero food miles!

Which talk are you personally most invested in?!

It is difficult to choose a favourite! I loved Spring series of talks with 'The Urban Farmer', Alan, where he shows how nature knows best on how to grow good food, and we should learn and go with that instead of trying to fight it. I also love the ethos of sharing knowledge as well as seeds and plants within our community, so that the community literally grows together!

Discover the reveal of The Orchard Garden at our Community Garden Opening Celebration on Sunday 21st July, 2pm-4pm at TOSH!

This will be a free afternoon of Summertime festivity, with drinks, tea, cake, a range of garden crafts to get involved with. Explore The Orchard Garden and all that is growing within it, and celebrate this milestone with the community that brought it to life!

Read more about The Orchard Garden story on our community page here.