The very first step of every FNG Community Garden Farming Facility is to Assess Community Readiness. Are your members ready to start the comprehensive project planning process? Before taking the first steps, the community needs to assess whether or not it is capable of going through the planning process at this time. Are the necessary people, capacity, and resources available? Community readiness includes support for the process by community and leadership.
If your community is ready to go ahead, you may wish to ask Council to endorse the planning process through a Band Council Resolution or similar mechanism. From the beginning, it is important to build understanding and support by sharing information with the community and leadership. If the planning process is postponed, for now, you may want to consider developing a plan of action for getting the people ready for a future time. Funding throughout the planning process is needed. Pre-planning is the time to figure out a budget for the whole process and identify potential sources of funding. What are these funding used for then? They may be needed to support a planning coordinator and trainee, for technical support, for holding community meetings, for writing and copying information updates, or for a variety of other activities that your community project planning committee determines will need financial support during the project planning process.
You may wish to draft a Terms of Reference for your planning team. This document summarizes the guiding principles of the planning team including the purpose and scope of the planning process, how you will engage community members, what timeframe you are considering, and roles and responsibilities. Research can help you understand how to make the planning process relevant to your community. Comprehensive community project planning is unique to each situation. Your community may already have plans and research sitting on the shelves from previous projects. The information in these documents will give you and your CCPP team an excellent starting point for your work. Historical records, land use maps, and previously identified goals and priorities all feed into the CCPP process. Based on information discovered during the research step, the project planning team will outline a comprehensive planning process for the community project.
Pre-planning is the time to assess whether the community is ready to start planning, inform the people and its leaders about the planning process, gain their support and prepare the groundwork for an open, inclusive and efficient planning process. By the end of the pre-planning stage, you will have a planning team and coordinator in place, a work plan to guide the planning process, and strategies to keep the community well-informed and actively engaged in the planning process. The planning process is community-driven and benefits from a variety of perspectives. Any community member can initiate a pre-plan program, but works best if developed and supported by the majority of the people and its leaders. Encourage all members of the community to participate including Elders, youth, family heads, nation administration, chiefs and councillors as well as all community members. Each brings a unique point of view to the planning process, and their involvement ensures the consideration of each member’s needs.
Sharing information is a critical component of the pre-planning stage. People are more supportive of an idea or concept if they understand what it is proposing. Inform the general community, as well as Chief and Council, about the purpose of the planning process, its outcomes, and its steps and phases. Keeping the people up to date will help build support for the project and end goal. Share information about the planning model and process, the structure of the planning team, and ways the community can participate in the planning process. Building community support for undertaking a comprehensive community project plan could include generating feedback on the planning process through community surveys and or meetings.