30 volunteers spent over 400 hours between July and September 2016 transforming a neglected piece of land from an eyesore to a community garden. The space is leased for an “apple pie rent”.
It has become a space used for a variety of events by all ages. Teenagers often sit and talk, people bring fish and chips or pasties, some just sit and watch the world go by.
We grow a wide variety of vegetables for “swap and share” or “pick your own” with a bee friendly garden, set up by a local bee group and a butterfly bed. Our range includes runner beans, climbing French beans, broad beans, rhubarb, kohl rabi, borlotti beans, artichokes, blackcurrants, peas, garlic, onions, courgettes, sweetcorn, butternut squash, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes apples and various herbs.
The raised beds by the wall can be accessed from the pavement to pinch off a few herbs for soups etc. Anyone can pick their own and leave a donation or bring some of their own excess produce to swap for some from the garden. We welcome volunteers helping with garden tasks.
With the arrival of warmer spring days the first daffodils appeared, the broad beans and garlic planted in autumn were doing well, and the spinach was still going strong. Over winter we dug up and divided the rhubarb crowns, which were already in leaf. We were very grateful for the kind donation of fine topsoil which we used to top up the raised beds, and they were ready and waiting for planting. Herb seeds sown indoors were ready for transplanting.
With the onset of lockdown, many of us were in the age group advised to stay at home. We needed to focus on what we could do and the Community Garden seemed to be the place to do it. To be able to get out of the house and focus on a therapeutic activity is essential for the wellbeing of people suffering from anxiety or other problems.
With no car boot sales and garden centres closed, the community garden became a place to pause and check during the daily walk. Pots of runner beans, climbing French beans, dwarf French beans, butternut squash, tomatoes, courgettes and a variety of herbs were quickly snapped up. Thank you for the many donations from local gardeners.
“Grow boxes” with a variety of seeds for children (or adults) to grow with simple instructions proved popular. They contained seeds – runner beans, climbing French beans, courgettes, sunflowers and nasturtiums along with an instruction sheet, labels, compost and bamboos.
Our own broad beans planted in the autumn were in flower and runner beans, climbing French beans were planted along with borlotti beans, courgettes, garlic, elephant garlic, peas, kohl rabi, beetroot and salsify.
The Community Garden has been a high spot in these challenging times. The flower beds have been full of colour with poppies, cosmos, gladioli, marigolds and weigela blooming well. We’ve enjoyed healthy crops of veg, especially beans, courgettes and sweetcorn, with tomatoes coming along nice and strong.
The community shelter offered an ideal spot for pop-up events. Plenty of space to keep your distance. Sunday’s addition to our usual garden session was a pottery session making plates using leaves from the garden to make a pattern. We have plenty of suitable leaves – sunflower, rhubarb, kohl rabi and courgette.
The first job was to wander around the garden to choose a leaf, then roll out the clay ready to roll the leaf on top to make the pattern. The leaf is peeled off and the clay raised at various points to create the shape. This is fired in a kiln, painted and fired again. Regular pottery workshops were well attended.
Two musicians unable to go to each other’s homes to practise brought a harp and violin to get in some practice, mainly Cornish dance music which inspired some teenage boys to improvise a dance – much appreciated by the musicians. This developed into Cornish dancing around the paths. The hardy musicians have continued practising through the winter.
What a year it has been in the Community Garden! Being in the open air, in natural surroundings has really lifted our spirits in these trying times.
More people than ever before have enjoyed looking at the garden as they pass by, and many have come in to have a look at the flower and vegetable beds or sit down to enjoy their coffee.
Swap and share has been a great success. You’ve donated lots of plants and taken others away to enjoy at home. We’ve had donations of produce, garden pots and equipment and some tools. You’ve also been so very generous with money donations, more than ever before – all greatly appreciated, and these will help maintain the garden, buy more plants, compost and seeds.
Music and traditional dancing – thanks to Jo and Cathy for the lovely music-making and the merry dancers who have enlivened Tuesday mornings, Bagas Crowd for their performance in October.
Gill’s pottery groups made some beautiful ceramics inspired by nature.
More autumn planting this year – broad beans (variety Aquadulce) and for the first time, winter peas (Douce Provence). There’s also garlic (Provence Wight), shallots (Jermor) and onions (Radar), plus some corn salad under a cloche.
Sonia’s grow boxes – a pack of everything you need to grow your own plants including compost pots, seeds, and instructions – were much appreciated by the youngsters who received them during lockdown.
A bit of TLC – weeding, adding organic matter to the soil and planting – have left the boat planter opposite Par Station entrance looking lovely now.