Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Community Gardening

City dwellers often find frustratingly long allotment waiting lists and for many getting an allotment is just a pipe dream.  In my area, allotment lists are 8 years long.  But there are other gardening opportunities for those with no space of their own...
Another option is to find wasted spaces of land near you and find out who owns it.  You  might be pleasantly surprised who will be willing to let you turn a disused space into an edible oasis.

You can also try asking your Council.  According to the Landshare site:
"Did you know that your council has a legal duty to provide you with an allotment? You just need a group of 6 council tax paying residents and to make a written application".
I garden and mentor at the Bramford Community Garden which is situated in a public park in Wandsworth.  Here's more information about the garden Bramford Community Garden
Sowing the pictorial meadow

Bramford Community Garden is a Transition Town Wandsworth initiative and they have been growing on the site since August 2010.  In the garden there are edibles, ornamentals and even a few areas of a pictorial annual flower meadow.  So I guess you could call it an ornamental edible garden (it's about 50/50 of each).  We don't have designated areas that we garden but rather, all garden the beds together, weeding, planting, etc and share out the produce.
They are now receiving very positive feedback from the local community who see the garden develop.

Gardening at a community garden is a lovely experience for many reasons.  Here are some of mine:  
  • In big cities, many people don't have growing space so it provides more opportunity to grow your own and garden
  • Gardening is good for the soul and can be stress relieving, therapeutic and an escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy working life
  •  There is nothing that beats cooking and eating food you've grown yourself, its worth so much more than its equivalent value in the supermarket and always tastes amazing fresh from the earth
  •  Meeting new faces and making friends in your community - the social aspect of gardening in groups
  • Share out crops to take home
    Pictorial Meadow
Shaping the herb spiral
 I joined the garden back in February 2011 when they requested help from a Master Gardener through Garden Organic's Master Gardener Programme and since joining I have inspired the idea of building a herb spiral which we all built by moving lots of compost onto a bed to create the spiral and planted lots of herbs and a great big horseradish back in April 2011.  I also donated and planted a few large perennials which would have never succeeded in my small garden (globe artichoke, rhubarb), brought the garden many seedlings which I propogated in May and transported over in an interesting fashion on my bicycle!  And I continue to bring ideas and inspirations of growing and cooking your own food.
Freshly completed herb spiral

In return, I've made some really lovely friends with people who have similar interests in wild life and eating seasonal garden produce.  I've also had quite a few extra veggies to take home and cook with.  For me, the really amazing benefit has been the opportunity to grow the larger perennials, to participate and experiment in larger scale garden projects and have another garden to compare my home experimentations to.  What's in season at the Bramford Community Garden is not necessarily the same as what's in season in my small garden.  I find the community garden is usually a few weeks ahead of my garden which is interesting as my home garden is south facing and sheltered and the community garden a north facing garden which is highly exposed.  However, it is always good to have some comparisons to draw from.
Established herb spiral

If you would like to come and garden at the Bramford Community Garden please email me.  It would be great to have more growers to garden with us.

If you don't live in Wandsworth, there could be a community garden near you.  Take a look at Hugh's Landshare  site.

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