In November 2011 we began work to transform a boggy and overgrown patch of unused allotment land at the bottom of Monk Road into a community garden that could be enjoyed by the whole community.We wanted to create a space that could be accessed by everyone, a place to learn about growing food, a place for people without gardens, a supportive and friendly place to get some fresh air, exercise and fresh vegetables. It was designed with a view to wheelchair access, with wide level paths, accessible compost toilet and raised beds that can be easily worked by people with bad backs.
As I write this, it has been nearly six months to the day since The Golden Hill Community Allotment opened its gates to volunteers. We are open every Wednesday 10am-4pm and Monday evenings 5pm-7pm for anyone to pop along and have a look around and a chat, with no commitment to stay around or get involved. We work on a drop in basis so people don’t have to come every week or stay all day, anyone is welcome to come and gently potter for half an hour or get stuck in for a whole day’s work. You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience. All we ask of every volunteer is that they are prepared to be supportive and respectful of those around them.
Our flexible approach means that in six months over 150 people, young and old and from all walks of life have come, gardened and got their hands dirty. We have especially welcomed volunteers with physical or mental ill health or adults with learning difficulties. We have also hosted working days of groups of students from the local college, women from supported housing, youth groups and adults from residential care homes.
Through epic rains and grey days, floods and winds, each week at least 15 volunteers have been busy planting and weeding, digging and building, and sitting back with a cup of tea to admire their work. Now, as summer finally arrives in all its glory, we reap the tasty rewards to all our hard work. So far our shared harvest has included broad beans, peas, mange tout, carrots, beetroot, potatoes, cabbage, courgettes, turnips, radishes, cucumber and tomatoes, rocket and salad, basil and herbs and bunches of sweet peas. With more delights on the way!
After the success of our Spring Fair -when the good people of Bishopston showed their mettle and turned up in droves despite the freezing winds and boggy ground underfoot – we will be holding our Harvest Festival on Saturday September 15th. Please come along to help us celebrate our first growing season with music and laughter, cake and games.
So come and get involved! if gardening is not your thing then we host a drawing class on Monday night 6-7pm - Appreciating Nature with Pencil and Paper - £3 includes materials – just turn up! Also we are always looking for donations of cakes for our community events. If you like the sound of any of this please get in touch and I can put you on the mailing list so you’ll be kept abreast of what’s happening even if you can’t make it down.
See you in the garden.
Lucy Mitchell, Community Project Worker