With dedicated support from the merry band of volunteers, the Community Garden in Love Lane continues to thrive, growing both in scope and ambition.
Visitor numbers are slowly increasing and cover all ages: one of the youngest, Daisy, simply stole the show! Along with her friend Miro, she spent a productive Saturday morning in October sowing broad beans and examining all manner of fascinating (for them) bugs.
During the summer, the Brownies became regular and very enthusiastic and energetic visitors. On their first visit in June, the girls lifted the over-wintered onion and garlic crops and helped to plant out pumpkins, courgettes and potatoes. In late summer, they were back for the harvest; in all, about 80kg of pumpkins headed back to the Scout Hut for Halloween fun and games along with quite a few kilos of potatoes – ‘treasure’ which the girls enjoyed finding in the potato bags.
Members of the Age UK Healthy Living Group were a model of determined gardening: weeding beds, watering trees, harvesting the over-wintered chard and broad beans (and shelling these) and even sowing brassica seeds. On both visits (June and September), the group of about 10 made a huge difference to the garden in a couple of hours.
The year started off with the garden boundary finally complete: Richard Hare, of Keepers Coppicing, had spent his New Year’s Eve day beavering away on the installation of a pair of donated farmyard gates, sited between the school fencing and the hedge.
Over the course of the year, and with funding from the Little Cheyne Wind Farm Fund, the infrastructure of the garden was also completed: the approach path finished off with woodchip; two further raised beds; a second water tank and additional guttering to harvest rainfall off the gazebo roof; wire mesh anti-rabbit fencing around the whole cultivation area. In addition, two donated cold frames were put into position and a composting station created using paving flags donated by local building firm, Tolletts; there are now five (donated) composters lined up behind the gazebo and ready for use in rotation.
All the heritage apple trees, planted out in 2015, are now well established with most bearing their first fruit this year: the group is looking forward to harvesting full crops in future years – Rye cider anyone? The various deciduous trees are also growing well. In particular, the ‘birch circle’ is now taking shape as a focal point at the heart of the garden. The flow of ‘green’ donations simply doesn’t stop. This year the group has received a standard rose, some hydrangeas, large numbers of perennial plants of various types, three ‘curly’ willows, eight more fruit trees and further hedge saplings.
However, with most of the hard physical work on infrastructure now complete, the Steering Group will be focusing on the Community Outreach Programme which was always one of the key aims of the garden’s creation – developing a ‘green space’ for the whole community to enjoy, work in, play in or simply sit and dream in!
Discussions with Rother Voluntary Action have provided a possible framework for the appointment of a part-time co-ordinator who will be tasked with expanding contacts with local organisations and individuals via the Locality Network – part of the ESCC ‘Better Together’ initiative. Once the group is assured of sufficient funds to cover an initial 12-month period, it will be circulating a job description and inviting applications.
The co-ordinator would also play a key role in planning community events throughout the year which, in 2018, will include the Great Get Together Event planned for June. As part of the planning for this event, the group hosted a visit by our MP, Rt Hon Amber Rudd, in August – she is wholly behind our efforts to widen access to the garden.
The Steering Group and some very dedicated volunteers have had enormous fun over the past three years getting the garden to where it is today – long may it continue.
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