Cultivation Street

Cultivation Street Stories

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Cultivation Street is a national campaign to promote and support Britain’s community gardeners, schools and neighbourhood gardens. The campaign was launched five years ago and has now grown to include a database of over a thousand of the UK’s garden projects. What differentiates Cultivation Street is that it contains strong communities from across the UK who are encouraging, talking and sharing their advice and guidance.

There are lots of different garden designs and spaces all over the country. Maybe your struggling with the design of your garden or are you looking at starting a garden project. Here are five great stories taken from a selection of different 2017 entries, that will help inspire you.

St John’s Family Centre

Meet Alix Miller, she’s a volunteer at the garden based at St. John’s Family Centre in Brecon. Alix told me, “It’s at the heart of our community and our main aim is to increase the health and well-being of all in our surrounding area”.

“With the help of lots of great people, I started a community garden at the centre last Spring and this year I’m hoping to attract even more members. I took up the post of community worker/caretaker, but with only 25 hours a week to run all the projects including the garden it’s not easy!” Alix explained.

As we chatted more, Alix outlined what’s happened over the last year. “I now have an extra planting bed, a small polytunnel and I’m having a raised bed built which will be about 30 feet long! This will accommodate those with wheelchairs to make it fully inclusive. The garden is really starting to take shape and it’s looking great! Having a background in market gardening, I was well placed to take on this challenge. I want to use the garden to provide fresh, quality produce for all and aim to not only grow food here, but also to teach people that they can improve their nutritional intake without a big expense or without having a garden”.

Alix told me that growing food is really satisfying “Members are welcome to take the produce home with them! And I also use anything edible that we grow for our weekly luncheon club. This isn’t a wealthy area, so I try to give produce to users of Brecon Foodbank where possible.” Alix explained to me that “The produce, is also put to good use on many projects such as the Eat Well Spend Less cookery classes. The garden is really transforming lives in our community!”.  Membership in this community garden is growing and is for all ages. “At the moment I have members from aged 5 to 91 and this year I hope to attract more! The benefits of exercise mixed with a good diet are well documented and I’d love to help educate children and young families about the wonders of growing your own produce as it’s great!”

Educational Learning Facility (ELF)

Calum MacDonald, set up the school garden at Northgate High in Dereham two years ago and it has just grown and grown. I love gardening and I happily give up a great deal of my time, holidays and weekends to work on the school garden. Its a total passion project for me. I wanted to provide the students of Northgate with an area they could enjoy peacefully, demonstrate teamwork and a show what positive work can be done in school. The garden has become so popular that I normally have between 40 – 50 students who visit the ELF every day! Though the numbers reduce a little bit in the winter. Alongside the plants, flowers and vegetables, the furry and feathered residents are always popular amongst the children.

My plans for this year are to get lots growing in my 25ft Poly-tunnel. The introduction of animals to the ELF allows our students to learn more about where the food comes from and how we utilise what we have. I’m planning to fill our allotments with a variety of different potato tubers and enter in for a schools competition. I plan to look at a prominent floral display in an area I have identified to commemorate the end of the Great War 100 years ago in 2018. This is already underway at our school and I’m the process of building an affiliation with Royal British Legion (RBL). I’m extremely proud of the achievements to date and always want to raise the bar in our school during Remembrance. I contacted a local Blacksmith Artist and had our “Poppies in Steel” designed as a focal point every year.

A real highlight has been the recognition received by the RBL for doing this and I will be presented with an award in May. But the biggest award I have received is the students smiling when they visit the ELF.

St Peter’s Junior School

Kay Doncaster helps to run the after school gardening club in Derby! Check out what a fabulous job she’s doing.

Our Friday after school gardening club has been going for about three years. The group is made up of families with children at the school and we sure do have lots of fun. During the early part of the year whilst the plants are still starting to wake up after winter, I take advantage of the lower amounts of foliage, and start preparing for Spring whilst its much easier to work!

The twice weekly, lunchtime gardening club is really popular too, though at the moment, it’s pretty muddy so I have to limit the numbers. This way its safer for everyone to run around and play on the tree trunks, make dens, as well as take part in gardening activities.

A big task for now is re-modelling the entrance to the garden. I’ve removed a ‘tunnel’ archway, which allowed us to sort out our climbing roses, clematis and honeysuckles. They look amazing later in the year I must say, but they’ve all become a bit tangled up and need our tender loving care. I’m really lucky to have three wildlife ponds, and I often can hear the frogs calling as I work. As the weather improves and the mud dries out, around 70 children, will participate and enjoy the garden! This year I have lots of projects happening too, helping the children learn tons of things about nature and their own environment. And thanks to a generous donation of 500 purple crocuses, some rich colours have been added and they look brilliant by the main entrance of our school!

Jordan’s Garden

I’m Jordan’s mum and he absolutely loves horticulture! He’s been very passionate about it for several years now and his skills are constantly developing. He has built our garden from scratch, virtually on his own and I’m super proud of him! He likes to open up the garden for the community and he raises his own money to support the continual development of the garden. Its a way of bringing our community together whilst continuing his enjoyment of gardening.

His aim is to make it the garden the best we can and with the increase of development this year there will be three of us involved. Jordan’s biggest achievement has been making the RHS gardening team of the year, winning highly commended too! He was also lucky enough to be invited to Chelsea in 2015 he was just across the way from a stand created by David Domoney!

Newington Academy

Steve Carter helps to run the school garden in Hull. Newington Academy after school gardening club was set up six years ago to promote gardening and get children growing! I look at most areas of gardening from growing on the allotment, growing indoor plants and producing jams or chutneys within the school. I also look after an area outside the grounds, which as a school we manged to take over from Hull city council when it was in a very run down state.

Over the years I have developed a woodland pond and planted in excess of 10,000 spring bulbs! Some of these include daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells, alliums and tulips. This year alone the children and I have planted over 3000 bulbs already.

Since starting our after school club I have won the school section of Hull in bloom 3 times, received a gold award at Yorkshire in bloom and won the best community garden in the Hull daily mail competition. Work is going well in this year’s endeavours! I hope to put on a better display than ever before, with new planters, larger hanging baskets etc. Last year I had 14 hanging baskets around the school. Hopefully I will have at least 20 this time round. At present the gardening club are busy seeding rudbeckia,verbena and numerous vegetables and flowers that will be shared around the 3 schools. Vegetables grown on the school allotment along with the fruit from the trees and bushes are either turned into jams or given to local pensioners or the local church for distribution.

Fancy having your story featured on our website, Facebook page and in the national newspaper The Sunday Mirror? Then what are you waiting for submit your garden story today!

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