So, what did 2020 hold for the Boundary Way Project? The earlier months of the year were typically quieter months for the Boundary Way Project calendar, with the seasonal nature of the site, we hunted for mushrooms, recorded the allotment's changed through photography and hatched plans for the coming months.
Unfortunately, planning was halted in March with the announcement of COVID-19 and the beginning of the first lockdown. Plot holders remained able to visit their plots, but as a team we were unable to visit the allotment and missed it dearly through the spring months - remembering it through sharing images on our Instagram for 30 days consecutively as part of the Wildlife Trust's 30 Days Wild Campaign. It wasn't all doom and gloom through, as June bought exciting starts for the project... The project received some emergency funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help us keep moving forward over the next few months and to make exciting plans for the future. As part of this funding and its subsequent extension we kept up our presence, sharing nature connection inspiration and built up to sharing our exciting Postcards from the Plot Project with you all. Postcards from the Plot was a creative project that explored the meaning and importance of allotments today. There were activities, workshops and inspiring stories from growers across Wolverhampton and beyond, from cooking and allotment printmaking films to botanical ink and herbal workshops. The idea behind the project was make connections within our city and beyond and share stories about how allotments supported our wellbeing during lockdown. We certainly found a new way to connect with our audience and an exciting new focus for the project during a difficult year. In a series of commissions we examined allotments as a place for creative inspiration and a resource for artists. We even got to look at their role in sustainable food production and as places to connect with other people as well as with the natural world. It was a treat of a project, which encompassed workshops and excitingly, our first ever Poetry Commission from the Poets Prattlers and Pandemonialists. They produced three incredible poems, which were illustrated by filmmaker Rachel Gillies and really captured the allotment's essence as a cornerstone of the community. You can watch all the films and poems from our Postcards from the Plot project here. Other summer highlights included taking part in the Big Butterfly Count and celebrating the best week of the year, National Allotments Week! As the autumn came and the pandemic unfortunately continued on, the Boundary Way Project received the exciting news of the awarding of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund for heritage, distributed by the governments, to enable us to continue the development of our virtual learning programme. This programme, which we continue to share, is valuably exploring creative ways of connecting with the natural world in current times and beyond and bringing people together online despite the situation. It has fittingly taken the title of Winter Wonder through the cold months. The programme encompassed a further series of online content from artists, creatives and growers, designed to inspire and motivate us all during this difficult time of further lockdown and social distancing. We were also pleased to be able to continue the development of our Poetry work with further commissions from Kuhli, Priyanka and Santosh from the Punjabi Women Writer's Group, whose magical poems were premiered at another first for us - an online poetry evening, hosted by the wonderful Pandemonialists. Finally this Winter, we were so excited to pilot our very first online Virtual Artist Residency exploring accessible ways of learning using digital platforms. We were delighted to be working with participatory artist Hannah Ayre, who explored creativity, nature connection and wellbeing with Key Stage 3 pupils at Penn Fields School, with great success. What a way to end the year! Despite the challenges that 2020 threw at us, the Boundary Way Project has thrived and ensured that we have been able stay connected to our creativity, the natural world and each other. We have also taken this year as an opportunity to celebrate the renewed and continued importance of allotments in our communities, a rich resource of heritage and connection. We'd like to thank our funders, the National Heritage Lottery Fund and the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, for their support this year and crucially to you all for all of your support as we have transitioned our work online. We hope that 2021 holds opportunity for us all to meet again in person before too long, but until then we will continue working online and sharing the journey with you. You can keep updated on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here on the Boundary Way Blog too! Happy New Year!