Diary of a garden makeover

Transforming unloved sites and working alongside the people who make it happen is one of the best aspects of being a Community Grower for the Food Partnership.

One such relationship was forged with the residents of a house renovated and managed by Seaside Community Homes.

Lots has happened since spring:

March 2015

Met with Marco and Cireena, two of the residents at Preston Road. They show me around the outside space; a large front and back garden that wraps around the property of 16 individual flats. The whole area has been landscaped in large sharp gravel which cuts the children when they fall on it. We share ideas about how to improve the site with raised beds for food growing and wild flower areas. Their enthusiasm is infectious and we go our separate ways with a clear idea of what needs to happen to take the scheme forward.

May 2015

The residents have secured a small grant for the gardening project and with help from the Food Partnership have sourced tools and materials to build and plant up two raised beds at the back of the property. Five of the residents come to help. Fuelled by cups of tea and laughter, the beds are built and filled. Marco has been raising plants in his flat and they can finally be planted outside. Broad and runner beans as well as tomatoes and strawberries are some of the first plants to go in.

June 2015

Phone call from Marco to say that the residents have raised some money for the garden by selling plants they've raised from seed. He tells me it's been a great way to meet some of the neighbours and they've had donations of gardening tools as well as offers of help.

Aug 2015

Today was the celebration event, a chance to mark the achievements of the tenants. The garden looks completely different; there is a children's play area, seating, community composting bins, herb garden and the raised beds are full of vegetables. The gravel has been relaid with an altogether more child friendly surface, so cut knees are a thing of the past. The tenants have laid on a feast of deliciousness made largely using the produce form the garden. Guests include trustees of Seaside Homes, friends and relatives of the tenants and a few of us from the Food Partnership, there's even a photographer from the Argus there.

The tenants tell us that having the garden has helped build community for them and spending time outside together makes them feel like a family.

Oct 2015

Marco has just sent a photo of one of the raised beds, it's overflowing with parsley, spinich and onions. Cireena is apparately hatching plans for the extended herb garden area and is busily researching native medicinal herbs.

Next...

Who knows what the tenants of Preston road will achieve in 2016. Judging by their ambition and success in 2015 – we predict great things.