Drawing on all their positivity and forward thinking, the team at Borrow My Garden have taken what was already a growing market and turned it into a force for change and innovation in the light the coronavirus pandemic.
Established in 2019, Borrow My Garden was the brainchild of Claire Lee from events company The Venue Queen, and photographer Jo Hailey of Striking Places Photography. In their separate lines of work, both had seen an increased interest in staging outdoor events, from weddings and festivals to a taste for glamping, and saw a gap in the market for a venture that brought landowners, suppliers and clients together.
Having worked hard during the first year to build a database of sites and complementary services like marquee hire, catering and toilets, the coronavirus situation and lockdown threw the pair’s plans into disarray.
Claire said: “We were just beginning to see the potential of Borrow My Garden when lockdown threw a rather large spanner into our plans. But, we carried on building up our list of venues and suppliers and now that everything has settled down and we know a little bit more about what the future might look like, I think this is something that is going to take off over the next couple of years.
“Firstly, we have people who have had to radically rethink plans for big events like weddings and parties. They may think their guests will feel more comfortable in a bigger outdoor setting – who knows when we’ll all feel comfortable in crowded rooms again – and there may also be more availability while all the regular venues are catching up on cancelled and rebooked events from the past year or so.
“Similarly, extended families will be desperate to get back together and may well find that a large field with space for three or four tents where two or three generations can all get together at last, will be very welcome.”
Claire and Jo are looking to make Borrow My Garden the go-to site for anyone looking for land upon which to hold an event. There are currently around 120 sites listed nationally and local suppliers can be found for whatever area clients are looking at. Landowners who can benefit from a listing on the website range from farmers with a field to rent to those with houses that benefit from significant sized gardens or areas of woodland, and, indeed, already-busy venues that make the most of their indoor space but haven’t capitalised on the possibilities that lie outdoors.
Borrow My Garden has a checklist detailing the licences, safety assessments and insurance cover that is needed in order to get started, and advice is readily available through the Live Chat function. Landowners and suppliers pay an annual listing fee, and there will be a buddy system, so that those new to renting out land will have someone more experienced from their own sector that they can turn to.
Claire added: “Given how hard hit the hospitality sector has been over the past year or so, everyone has needed to get a little bit creative. We’ve all become used to things like drive-in cinemas and comedy shows, or micro-weddings that are smaller and so maybe need to be a little bit special.
“But even before COVID, we were seeing a move towards outdoor events. Weddings are often more relaxed and informal these days, and a woodland wedding, for instance, is a truly memorable event. Corporate events like team building days are always better outdoors and the popularity of music festivals and country fairs is growing all the time.
“We understand that there is a lot to think about, both for the landowner and the client, and that’s why we want to bring everything together in one place, from what public liability insurance you need to where to find a mobile wine bar or decorations and lighting for an outdoor event.
“For landowners, this year could provide an excellent opportunity to try it out and see how it goes. Given the circumstances, there is expected to be a lot of interest as we emerge from lockdown and it’s the ideal time to make some land available, get everything in place and start off small and then, when they see how it works, how straightforward it is, it’s something to build on in the years to come.”
For more information about Borrow My Garden, visit www.borrowmygarden.co.uk