Are you a good IYN Neighbour?
- Credit: Archant
In the first of a two-part article for the Sidmouth Resident, Lynette Talbot, chairman of Sidmouth in Bloom, asks are you a good IYN neighbour?
Sidmouth in Bloom enters the town in the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom – South West competition but has the opportunity to enter any number of ‘In Your Neighbourhood’ (IYN) groups at the same time.
IYN groups carry out a variety of volunteer work to ‘Green Grey Spaces’, and look after parks, waterways, and even a roundabout. An IYN is important in a number of ways. Firstly, it is community based.
It can be entered with any number of volunteers. Importantly, unlike the main competition that is marked with horticulture 50%, community and environment at 25% each, the IYNs are marked with community participation 40%, and gardening achievement and environmental responsibility both at 30%.
The awards are given as ‘levels’: 1 (establishing), 2 (improving), 3 (developing), 4 (thriving), 5 (outstanding) and not as bronze, silver, silver gilt or gold. By giving levels, groups are expected to progress over a period of years, being entered again each year or so, to show judges their commitment and development. Sometimes, due to their own particular circumstances, levels may not progress rapidly. Volunteers are often lacking funding and support so do not quickly fulfil their ambitions, and the RHS recognises this.
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Their work is for the entire town to enjoy and funding can be sought by any means. There are many types of IYNs, but all must involve some form of horticulture – for example, The Sidcombers’ beach cleaning group includes the beach shingle garden. Apart from the group being local to the district, they must be representative and inclusive of the local community. A good working plan – what they have done, what is being done now, and future plans – would impress the judges. Their environmental responsibility could include composting; recycling; improving green spaces; keeping the area clean and tidy; and even sharing their knowledge of their work with others. They need to show good gardening practice, overcoming problems encountered with their site, innovation or creativity, and good plant choice. Sometimes a site can be difficult to access or improve and gardening there can be challenging. Explaining your own town’s environment and climatic conditions can impress the judges, who may not be aware of sea mists, salt air and seaside storms.
I will be highlighting six IYNs in the Sidmouth. Anyone who is interested in becoming an IYN or looking to join an existing group can do so depending on conditions. For example, ‘The Chairman’s Garden’ would expect volunteers to be a member of the ‘Croquet Club’. New groups and beginners are welcomed and judges provide encouragement and support – they are not there to criticise.
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The Sid Vale Association has a number of volunteer groups. SIB submits an IYN for ‘The Queen’s Jubilee Copse’ and the ‘Livonia Road Shrubbery’. This group meets on Monday mornings to help maintain Margaret’s Meadow, Gilchrist and Livonia Field.
The Copse is a lovely area originally planted by children in 2003 and kept mown and maintained for the benefit of the public to enjoy. Much work has been done clearing brambles, cutting back trees and maintaining the small ‘garden’ known as the Livonia Road shrubbery. This is actually not part of the SVA area, but is a good example where a disused and neglected area of land is improved and gardened for all to enjoy. The Peaslands Knapp group has been nominated for an IYN in the past and will in the future, but this is an example where the group has missed a judging year in order to show advancement in their work. The introduction of sheep grazing, butterfly days and other informed activities with a regular working party makes a good IYN group. The Friends of the Byes is a similar group with consistent dedication to improving the National Trust area of the Byes. They work under the guidance of the NT, with advice from East Devon District Council. Their community orchard, flower fields, seats and good social gatherings also make for a good IYN submission; they have won ‘outstanding’ for the past few years and the London and Manchester Cup for the environment.
IYNs are good for the town, encourage pride of place and show that the community is working hard to maintain its heritage.
Next month, other IYNs will be showcased and it is hoped that further groups will be encouraged to participate. n