How to start a green community project
Practical advice and creative ideas to help you research, plan, fund and promote a green project in your local community.
Here at EcoTree, we have a team of specialist foresters who plant and nurture trees on a grand scale. But you don’t have to be a forestry expert to bring the natural world to where you live. In this post, we share some practical ideas that can help you start a green project that transforms your local community.
Do your research
Before you start planting trees or creating new green spaces, you need to do a little research. It’s important that your project is right for your neighbourhood and can be sustained over a period of time.
So you need to ask some questions.
- Is this the right environment for this particular project?
- How much work will it take to start and then keep going?
- Who will be responsible for maintaining the project?
- Are there any financial costs and who will pay for them?
- Does the local community support the project?
If you can answer clearly and feel positive about what you can achieve, you’re almost ready to go. However, most projects for a community are carried out by the community. Don’t take on all the work yourself. Ask for help.
Build a team of volunteers
Can you think of people who live in your area that might want to support the project? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If people like your idea, you’ll find they want to get involved to make sure it happens.
Be clear about what you want from them though. Do you need people to get dirty and help plant trees? Do you want help to write a funding application for the project? Your community will get behind the project, but you may need to show some leadership and delegate tasks.
That said, be open to other people’s ideas too. Community projects work best when different people come together to achieve a shared goal. You’ll need to be a good listener and willing to adjust your plans as you go.
Choose a project
Time for the exciting part – picking a green project and getting started. Here are some ideas that might work well in your local environment.
Run a tree planting event
Through EcoTree, you can own a tree in one of our beautiful forests.
But what about planting trees where you live? Every tree helps fight climate change, but they also attract wildlife to your community, provide a space to play and shelter, and can even prevent flooding.
Depending on how many trees you aim to plant, the Trust also has a range of grants and funding options. If you’re not sure how to get started, why not organise a day for families to explore suitable land for your event?
Plant a community garden
You don’t need to live in a rural area to plant a community garden. In fact, cities and other built-up places tend to benefit from these green spaces the most. And the good news is they come in all shapes and sizes.
From local parks and patches of woodland to rooftop terraces and urban flowerbeds, a shared garden can be the central point of a community. It’s where children play, people meet and local wildlife thrives.
But how do you turn a project idea into reality? We recommend following this step-by-step guide from the Eden Project, which tells you exactly how to plant a community garden.
Organise a woodland walk
Is there a better way to appreciate nature and the magic of trees than a woodland walk? They also provide a fantastic opportunity for people in your community to learn more about where they live.
If you have a wood or forest you can explore, that’s fantastic. If you like in a city or urban area, look for green spaces amongst the sprawl that you can investigate together. Can your walk cover more than one location? Be creative and create a route that both educates and delights your neighbours.
Want to give your woodland walk some extra purpose? Ask people to collect donations that can go to a green charity or organisation.
Fund your project
Running a green community project costs money, but you don’t have to pay for everything yourself. Here are some ways you can fund your idea.
Ask the community
This is the simplest approach – share your idea with people in your community, tell them how much it will cost and then ask them to contribute. This may be the best tactic if you want to run a one-off event or cover your costs.
Apply for funding
For larger projects, you may need to apply for a grant or funding from a charity or organisation. The Woodland Trust offers funding for large-scale tree planting projects, for example.
If you want to ask for financial support from people beyond your community, crowdfunding is a great option. It’s also a brilliant way to test your idea and get funding in place before you invest lots of time and energy in your project.
Promote your project
You might have the best project idea in the world, but if no one knows about it you have a problem. Here’s how you can spread the word.
Use social media
Most people are on at least one social media platform, so this is a good place to start. You can create accounts to share information about your project or even use social media as an online place for people in your community to meet and discuss what you are all doing.
Pitch local media
Traditional media can be a useful way to get the word out about your project too. If you think there is a story to tell, you can get in touch with your local newspaper or radio station to see if they want to feature your work.
Community projects are all about specific real-world places and spaces. That means good old-fashioned posters, flyers and leaflets are likely to reach exactly the people you want to see them. Dust off those design skills!
Tell us about your project!
Do you have a green community project that you want to share with the world? We’d love to hear from you and find out what you’ve been up to. Just email the team or say hello on Twitter or Instagram.
And don’t forget, you can become a tree owner (or buy someone else a tree) right now through the EcoTree online tree shop.