Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Bridge Community Garden: May

1. Homemade paper pots.
2. Preparing vegetable beds.
3. Brassica flowers.
4. Kiwis and brassica flowers outside cafe.
5. Blueberry blossom and pear blossom.
6. Raised beds.
7. View of raised beds from the road.

The Bridge is a Community Centre a short cycle ride from my home. I started going to the Surestart playgroups and volunteering in the garden a year ago. The area outside the centre was all grass with no shrubs or flowers. A local gardener, Joel Brooks, had received funding to create a food producing garden that everyone could enjoy, with fruit and veg the cafe could use. The site was planted with apple, pear and fig trees, gooseberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, vines, kiwis and raspberries. All of which have done incredibly well. We had applied for lottery funding to finish the hard landscaping; gravel paths, seating areas, compost bins, but found out this year we hadn't got it. Joel no longer works at the garden. So for most of the Autumn and winter there has been no one looking after it.

We have had problems with flooding due to possibly underground streams being disturbed by moving the earth for the seating areas. We decided to create raised beds roughly 1.4m wide by throwing soil we dug 1 spade deep from the paths onto the beds. This will make the beds easier to work and maintain and the paths are clearly defined so the children won't go running over our growing area. The idea is to use the no dig method so that something is always growing in the soil or the soil is covered with compost or green manure.

A local landscape gardener came out to give us some free advice about how we can solve some of the problems with our lack of funds. We now have funding to finish one of the seating areas and build compost bins. We will be getting some free bark mulch which we will use on the paths. The Bridge also got funding for a full time gardener to look after the site and run a horticultural therapy course. I applied and was offered the job. I will be doing it as a job share with Lucy from Brighton. There are also now 2 trainee gardeners employed in a scheme to create jobs for the under 25s, Tom and Sophie. Also our regular volunteers Emma, Kelly, and Karen.

On a Tuesday a food growing course is being run. We have one mini-greenhouse for raising seeds and nowhere for bringing on plants. This is a problem as I would like to raise plants to plant out, since there will be more chance of a bigger plant surviving slug and snail attack.

On warm sunny days the garden is busy with activity. Children who have been to the playgroups or cafes come out and dig in the soil and look for bugs and worms. They ask questions about the garden and are keen to help. Some children who live in the local flats don't have any outdoor space at home. This is such a good way for children to learn about growing fruit and vegetables.

Community Garden: March

This is the community garden in March. After winter the site looks very bleak. We had so much snow that when it melted it rushed down the side of one of the banks and onto a neighbouring house's patio, flooding it. The site was still having the drainage problems we came across last summer. We had applied for lottery funding to finish the hard landscaping; gravel paths, seating areas, compost bins, but found out this year we hadn't got it. The areas that were dug out, that were supposed to be seating areas, are water logged and the soil on the bank is being washed away since there are no retaining walls. The paths and beds are indistinguishable and the children are running over all the soil. Joel's funding for working at the garden finished. So for most of the Autumn and winter there was no one working on it. I pruned the gooseberries and apple trees.
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