Volunteers turned out in strength on Hedge Fun Day last Saturday to plant more than 300 saplings. These will form a long, curving border, separating the Rye Community Garden from the Love Lane allotments car park.
The “Wild Harvest” saplings, and the stakes and necessary tree-guards, were all donated by the Woodland Trust, under their Trees For All initiative. To promote biodiversity and resilience, the saplings are a mix of suitable hedging species: blackthorn, dog rose, hazel, elder and downy birch.
Started last August, the garden will be a place for local people to enjoy all aspects of gardening, from actual planting and harvesting, to just being able to watch things grow – which could include, “Well, anything,” said Katharine Manning, one of the founders of the garden, “fruit trees, vegetables, strawberries, sunflowers, whatever people like to bring”.
The 0.4 acre garden, leased from the Rye Amenities CIC, will combine the growing and harvesting of produce with community-centred events planned – weather and ground conditions permitting – around significant dates in the lunisolar calendar.
There was an Apple Day celebration last October and a Christmas tree planting around the winter solstice (December 21). Last Saturday’s hedge-planting day was around the spring equinox (March 20). The linkage will hopefully encourage a deeper, subliminal engagement with the natural world, as an antidote to the stresses and strains of our more pressurised working lives.
The community garden is gaining volunteers at each event. It has also been the beneficiary of sponsorship from several local firms and organisations, for example, bark compost from Rother District Council and materials for the hard standing from building firm W Tollett. Other building materials for the inevitable shed came from Alsford.
A significant financial contribution was made by Rye Allotments Association towards the purchase of 10 Sussex Heritage apple trees (planted on Apple Day) and more fruit trees came from individual well-wishers.
The Rye Community Garden’s steering group is immensely grateful for all contributions whether in goods, services or just volunteers’ time – please keep it coming! The next significant date is the summer solstice on June 21, so watch this space.
Photos: Kenneth Bird and Pip Al-Khafaji