My goodness this is difficult and I’ve rather been putting off writing this post knowing
how sad it will make everybody who’s followed the blog and had such high hopes for our lovely garden. We are closing down at the end of the month – there I’ve said it.

If you’ve followed us from the start you’ll know that we had the land on a Meanwhile Lease which enabled the owner to lend it to us until they were ready to start building. Our initial agreement expired in June and our attempts to get a new lease came to nothing. We were eventually contacted by a legal firm who had been appointed to sell the land for redevelopment. Many people advised us to stand our ground but the site was sold and the new owners asked us to be prepared to leave the site within 7 days. This was extended to 21 days to give us time to move or find storage. We asked if we might stay on for a longer period and they agreed with the proviso that we must move within 21 days of notice being served, at any time in the future.

We’d set up the garden as a Moveable Feast so we started looking around for a new local site and this is where the wheels came off our big idea. We couldn’t find anywhere suitable in this part of town where there is a need for a growing project like ours. We also realised that we simply can’t plan and grow seasonally with a 21 day notice to quit hanging over us.

We held a committee meeting and decided to shut down at the end of the month and redistribute everything from the garden to other growing projects and charities that help people in our area. It’s the end of the growing season, the weather is mild and if we have to close this is a good time to do it.

The great news is that the local primary school are starting a gardening club and will be taking compost, tools, our shed and – if they can raise the moving money – our polytunnel. This means that the very children we hoped would benefit from the community garden will soon be sowing, planting and harvesting in their own school garden.

We held a closing party on Sunday.
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People were invited to take plants in exchange for a donation and it suddenly occurred to us that all these plants were going off to grow and thrive in other local gardens and allotments around the town, so it really was a moveable feast.
We also had compost, pots and bulbs for everyone to plant up and take home as a springtime reminder of the garden.
Its been great in so very many ways. Especially as an example of what can be done if you put your mind to it. It wasn’t easy and there were times when we were completely shattered but we will miss those sunny afternoons in the garden beneath the big GROW wall.

And the end we may not have MOVED but we definitely GREW.



Days are growing shorter and some plants look straggly but nonetheless the garden still looks alive and loved.


This years successes were curly kale, peas, sweetcorn and (mostly green) tomatoes but the usually reliable beans and courgettes were few and far between. On the whole the sudden late hot summer hasn’t resulted in a great harvest – perhaps because winter hung on too long so we didn’t get the good start we’d hoped for. 


It seemed that snails and caterpillars were the big winners this year as they’ve chomped their way through all our brassicas and are now enjoying the ripening tomatoes.  We’ve all experienced the disappointment of reaching down to pick a luscious tomato only to find the ripe and ready beauty has already been devoured inside from the bottom up.   Sneaky.

Flowers bloomed in the meadow and around the garden and really did seem to lift the spirits of everyone passing by.

We’ve held two Saturday events in the past month with the help of funding from Southern Water. 


These follow the Feastie Beastie kids event and we have one more planned – A Harvest Celebration with pumpkin carving  where we will join up with The Bohemia Walled Garden – details will be on our Facebook page. 


Our Herb Day must have been the rainiest event day yet – ironic that it was sponsored by the water company!  Undaunted, we gathered under the larger gazebo and listened as two experts gave fascinating talks on different aspects of herbs.  Jackie is a medical herbalist who introduced us to easy-to- concoct herbal remedies and suggested ways of supporting good health by treating ourselves with the plants that nature has provided.  Then we all made a dash for the polytunnel to enjoy lots of herb themed goodies that the garden volunteers had made.  Savoury flapjacks, rose geranium and quince cake, rosemary and walnut shortbread and lots more served with freshly made herb teas got us in the mood to hear Elaine tell us about growing herbs and designing a great herb garden.  Eventually the unstoppable torrential rain got the better of us and everyone went home a lot wiser but desperately needing to also be a lot drier and warmer as well!







Our most recent event was ALL ABOUT FOOD!

The garden was open for EDIBLE GARDENS 2013 which is part of The Big Dig, a national movement to encourage people to grow their own food on allotments and in community gardens like ours.  The weather was a lot kinder to  us this time, which is just as well with outdoor cookery as the theme.  We had a mention in the press and posters were up around town so there was a good turnout including Council Leader Jeremy Birch Council and representatives from our event sponsors, Southern Water.  Image

Hafiz provided a typical Sudanese vegetarian feast served with rice from our friends at the Laskshmi Mahal.  Jan made a big pot of delicious minestrone using vegetables she’d picked that morning.  We also had salads from Mooses’s Kitchen and plenty of teas brewed up by Peter who kept the Kelly kettle boiling all afternoon.  

Most of all we had lots of happy people in the garden, sitting on straw bale benches chatting to each other, making friends and enjoying a meal together. This is what the garden was made for.

Next Saturday The Moveable Feast joins up with a garden themed exhibition as part of Coastal Currents.  Dora and I are recreating the garden shopping trolley logo as an exhibit. Photo’s will be taken if it works – if not less said the better!

We haven’t had any news about a date to leave the site so plan to stay put until the time comes.  We certainly wouldn’t want to pack up and go only to see this inspiring space return to the state it was in when we started here last April.  For now all we can do is carry on as usual and see what the future brings.







See how the garden grows…

August is here and we’re feeling the heat. Last Thursday with tempertaures rising above 30ºC it was plain dangerous to spend more than 5 minutes inside the polytunnel. We are so lucky to have water on the site as its hard collecting rain in our water butts without roofs and downpipes. If there is an expert water collector out there please identify yourself – we need your help.

In the meantime we have a team watering the garden in the evenings and plenty of small helpers who like nothing better than to fill a can from the tap then slosh, splash and sprinkle water on the plants.


We have been doing battle with cabbage white butterflies and their ravenous caterpillar offspring. Close examination of our raised beds shows that there is a bit of a rota system operating with snails tucking themselves down the sides of the bags to sleep off their night time feasting while caterpillars chomp through the day. We need a flock of hungry birds to patrol our brassicas.
Fortunately there are some leaves they just don’t fancy so our squash, carrots and leeks remain untouched.

There are flowers everywhere and the colour contrasts absolutely zing. The painted tyre fruit trees containers have tumbling red, yellow and orange nasturtuims alongside California poppies with bright blue cornflowers and the wildflowers at the behind the fence are now butter yellow and mauve. Our meadow colour is changing all the time as new seeds germinate so there are constant surprises there too.

On the downside we had a bit of a wake up call this week when a sign appeared on our fence offering the site for sale with planning permission. We always knew this day would come whilst secretly hoping it wouldn’t. We’ll start making contingency plans to move our garden to another site but hope to be able to stay in Western Road for now and at least until the end of the growing season.

To end on a happier note here is a photograph of one of our regular visitors Herbert who celebrates his 70th birthday tomorrow. When he first came into the garden he insisted that it should have been a bowling green. We soon realised that it was pointless to explain about the proximity of several bowling greens and after a while he came round to the idea of the garden, so long as he gets a cup of tea with a biscuit. Happy Birthday “Bowling Green” Herbert.

FLOWERS attract bees and passers-by


A quick trip down to the garden with my camera this morning turned into an hour of marvelling at the number of bumble bees on the purple flowers whose name I’ve temporarily forgotten…I could sit and watch them all day.

We haven’t grown these before so I’m not sure how long the flowering lasts, but we have plenty of Lavender and Hyssop about to flower so hope the bees tell all their friends via the bee dance. Valerian is having a great year and we have it in three colours behind the back fence with plenty of Buddleia for butterflies.
The wildflower meadow we had so much fun sowing with is already brightening up the corner of our plot. We had a family of blue tits in the “meadow birdbox” but now that they have fledged we’ll be able to sow more seed to fill in any gaps. The nestbox will be cleaned out and with luck we may have another brood this year.

Vegetables are coming along nicely – we have red cabbage; tomatoes, peas, kolrabi, lettuces, oats, calvo nero, curly kale, parsnips,carrots,onions, garlic, spinach, squash and rather amazing globe artichokes.
We’re training our beans up the fence by the pavement and hope passers-by will enjoy a bit of scrumping on their way to the station. Unfortunately snails have discovered our vegetables and they are chomping their way through our brassicas, potatoes and beans. The peas and broad beans have escaped their ravages and they show no interest at all in carrots or parsnips. Some gather them up and put them over the fence while others surreptitiously step on them – each to his own… but the snails always seem to have the advantage. Maybe our tadpoles will grow into frogs that gobble up snails.

July may bring a heatwave and with school holidays coming up we hope that local kids will be tempted in to help us keep the raised beds watered. The garden is such a peaceful sun trap we’reexpecting lots of new volunteers to come along and enjoy growing together this summer.


Okay summer … anytime you’re ready…

IMG_2285 Oh I’m sorry to keep banging on about the weather but REALLY!
Things are growing and we’ve had a good first crop of deliciously melt-in-the-mouth spinach, we could be eating broad beans in a week or so and the salad leaves and lettuces are doing well. We have tomatoes in the polytunnel and along the wall and our herb beds are quite luscious.IMG_2294
One of our volunteers has painted large labels for the beds and each little touch like this makes the garden more special.

The big news this week is that we have a family of blue tits in one of our birdboxes. They’re a noisy bunch and very distracting. The box is sited in the wildflower meadow corner and we’ve moved the bird feeder to a more convenient spot for them too. Our other residents, the tadpoles are growing fatter and some have small backlegs.
The occasional dinner party (dollop of petfood) makes them very happy tadpoles indeed.

This week we’ve had a day’s help from a group of young people from Xtrax. The weather did its usual trick of being pretty dreadful but they didn’t seem to mind. Two girls got stuck into shovelling and wheelbarrowing compost to fill planters including our new shopping trolley. One sowed beetroot seeds and another weeded around the planters and everyone enjoyedbeing outside and getting a bit mucky. Matt and the only young man on the team cleared out our toolshed, sorted out the flooring and re-stacked everything in a more accessible way. Peter had the Kelly kettle on the go for teas, Abby organised and motivated everyone for the tasks and rain didn’t stop play at all.

Our next event in the garden will be our opening as part of The St Leonards Festival on Saturday 13th July. We plan to serve tea and cakes and have a stall with plants and herb posies in return for a donation to our garden fund.
Finally, I walked along the coastal path by the beach huts yesterday and really recommend it at the moment, the sea kale is in flower and I also came across these delicate Sea Campion flowers and will be back to collect seed for the garden later in the season.

In the Moveable Feast Garden the sun MAY shine and the wind will blow


The garden is so full of life you can almost hear the plants growing in the polytunnel.



The seasons have overlapped and seeds were reluctant to germinate until the temperature rose. Even now we shiver in the cold winds and feel bad about putting anything fragile outside.  Its a matter of space though and some are having to brace themselves and toughen up, these peas are getting a little help each one enclosed in it’s own little greenhouse with a sharp frill to deter the snail invaders.Image

We had some fun sowing the new Meadow recently – inspired by something seen on Countryfile we gathered families together on a Sunday morning, sowed the seed then did the Hokey Kokey to tread them all into the ground. 




The children all went home with balloons inflated with some wildflower seed inside then strung onto little bamboo poles.  We told them to find a place where they would like to see flowers grow and pop their balloon there.  Fingers crossed some flowers grow and they make the connection!


We are struggling with the opening hours.  People coming in off the street all ask  “When is the garden open?”   We have posted new opening times but still tell them the garden needs regular volunteers to commit to be in the garden every week at specific times in order to guarantee that the garden will be open.  They nod.  It doesn’t seem to be what people want to hear and we spend hours in meetings talking about how best to encourage local people to come in and feel a part of the growing and sharing. 

The other question we are constantly asked is “Who get’s the produce – is it for sale?” “Not for sale but to share” we respond, then explain the idea that everyone who works in the garden is entitled to share the produce.  They nod.  This doesn’t really seem to be what people want to hear either.  It’s too vague and do-goody and you can see them wondering what the catch is.  At this stage in the growing season its all pretty academic anyway because we only have herbs and a couple of broad beans to share, so perhaps when we have actual vegetables to share it will make more sense.

It’s disheartening ….until you step into the garden and once there, outdoors and surrounded by new growth you find your spirits lift.  Time passes and tensions fade.Image

One early adopter of community garden life is Hassif a Sudanese gentleman who happily sows seed, nurtures his plants and has volunteered to take charge of the Sunday afternoon shift from the end of May.  He knows a lot about African plants and nutrition and is always happy to talk and share.  He planted a Baobab tree seed in the garden – watch that space!

Sadly, Abby has come to the end of her contract with us and everyone agrees she has done a brilliant job.  We all feel more informed and organised veg-wise now and her Saturday morning workshops were a delight. We are looking for ways of funding more of these and Abby will still be coming to the garden when her busy schedule allows. Big Thanks!!!Image



There will be an exciting food event in the garden this Friday 17th May from  4pm to 7pm when Maresa from Moose’s Kitchen the ‘opening shortly’ local Vegan Cafe, will be doing a joint event for Food Revolution Day – come along to try some tasty vegan food – and bring something vegan to share too.

All for now…..


April showers, shivvers & sunshine

One things that has been missing from the garden is birdlife. We put up a bird table with feeders and two types of feed last year and our feathered friends resolutely ignored it. So we moved it to a quieter spot where they still took no notice and didn’t touch the seed even in the bleak mid-winter. Perhaps they were just biding their time or waiting for our water feature because we now have a pair of blackbirds nesting nearby and visiting us all the time. Then last week we spotted a blue tit popping into one of our nest boxes, so who knows?
We may have been accepted at last.

A nursery group has been visiting on Tuesday mornings with their mums for a Seed to Plate course and even though the weather has been cold and drizzly they’ve had lots of fun poking about in the wormery.



Seeing how popular worms are we’ve now added more ‘wildlife’ by making a little pond area at the back of the garden with frog spawn and water snails and fitted a solar powered fountain to keep the water oxygenated.
The blackbirds were impressed! If you’re wondering how we managed to create this marvellous lake …. this is what it actually looks like.

On the growing side of things the garden is raring to go and all we’re waiting for now is the sunshine (and not just a random day’s worth either). The polytunnel has proved its worth as a shelter from the frequent icy showers and also as a perfect place for sowing and growing.
There is hardly an inch of space to spare so the sooner the sun comes out and stays out the happier we’ll be.

Outside our salad leaves are doing well in the cold frames, the herb beds are reviving and its good to see new shoots on the artichoke plants. We are growing a wider variety of vegetables this year in a more orderly way. Abby has used her organic vegetable growing experience to formulate a planting plan so that we will get the best possible harvest from our growing space. We did well last year but started late – this year we’re better prepared.
The fruit trees are all budding up nicely although there is still the feeling that everything is holding back waiting for warm weather.




We’ve ordered two special planters from Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling for wheelchair users and our pathways now make most of the garden, including the polytunnel, fully accessible to them as well. So please spread the word to any wheelchair using gardeners you know to come down and get involved!
When we cleared old planters away we used the opportunity to clear and weed then sow flower seeds along the street fence edge and the GROW wall. If weeds grow there, so might flowers.

This week we had some great donations – about 30 bags of good soil from a garden landscaping job, a garden bench and an impressive £43 from a whip round at SoCo Arts Group when Nicole gave a talk about the garden! We also found out that we won a prize for our efforts on Big Dig Day last month and have chosen a delivery of compost.

Jan and I spent this morning moving the donated soil down to the end of the garden and raking it over the rough ground in preparation for the sowing of our Wildflower Meadow. Last year’s trial patch was sown late but lasted till November so we are hoping for lots of pretty flowers to provide plenty of pollen for the bees this year.IMG_7515

All we need to grow now are more regular volunteers – so please come down whenever you can, the Kelly kettle is always on the go.


BigDigLogo_largeLast Saturday we opened our gates to friends new and old as part of the UK-wide Big Dig community garden day.

The Big Dig aims, “to involve local people in creating vibrant community food gardens, which can reduce anti-social behaviour, provide fresh, healthy food and put pride into communities,” which pretty much sums up what we’re all about too. So we decided to take part, linking up with The Bridge Centre in Ore and Bohemia Walled Garden, St Leonards to put our towns on the growing map.

But the weather was not in our favour…it didn’t just rain, it poured. However, in true UK spirit we didn’t let that stop our party.


Da made us all delicious Thai soup for lunch, the perfect thing to warm us on such a wet and windy day.


There were homemade cakes a-plenty.


Cups of tea…and a councillor popped in/ out the tea cup.

IMG_0784 Garden produce was on offer as well as some beautiful soaps handmade, no less by volunteer extraordinaire, Cat.


A highlight was Pepe Mache’s ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ puppet show.

IMG_0787Despite the rain we even managed a bit of digging and weeds clearing, preparing our wildflower meadow area for sowing.


Thank you to everyone who came for making the day so successful despite all odds!

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Today we opened the garden after its winter sleep and we’re pretty chuffed at the turn out. We’d expected the trustees, maybe some of last year’s volunteers ….and perhaps some new faces. By the time I got there at eleven the garden was absolutely buzzing with activity and quite a lot of it was being undertaken by a whole new crop of visitors eager to get involved at all levels.
The shed has been raised onto a platform of strong blue pallets and we have a very sturdy new pallet fence along to back of the site.

Ah men! Bless their strength and love of hammers.

Compost had been delivered and Jenny shovelled and barrowed it into big growing bags and Jan gave our shed a proper spring clean. Paths were raked and order was restored.

The wheelchair-friendly path system was extended right up to both the polytunnel and the shed which will make a big difference mud-wise should the deluge return. This alone pretty well guarantees us a drought.
Peter and Cat fixed up their outdoor kitchen in the middle of the ‘orchard’ with Peter working his Kelly Kettle magic for hot drinks and Cat serving outrageously good Parsnip & Wild Garlic Soup with foccacia – eat your hearts out if you missed it! Wild garlic comes but once a year but there will be other soups, salads and stirfrys on the Turkish barbecue….

We’ve all come away from the garden full of fresh air, smelling of woodsmoke, tired in a good way and best of all very excited about the year ahead.


Spring Preparations

The sun has finally hit St Leonards on Sea and the garden is starting to show the effects. Crocuses are popping up along the fence, shoots of bluebells amidst the colourful tree tyres and the broad beans in the polytunnel are already in flower! Not surprising when the polytunnel is registering a max. temperature of 40°C, but with a min. of -1 °C we’ll see how they fare…

IMG_0609 We are well and truly approaching ‘the hungry gap,’ the period of the year when seasonal produce is low on the ground and Spring planting has, if only, just begun. Kales are the king of the hungry gap staple, hopefully we’ll have lots thriving next year.


At present we have a few edibles ready for harvesting in the garden with the ruby chard struggling on but the rocket lapping up the sun’s rays in the cold frame.


Peter perked up a sad looking shopping trolley bed last week with some Polyanthus. Their bright colours teaming nicely with our coloured signpost and painted tyre tree planters.


When the sun starts shining and garden life stirs so too do all the garden tasks that need to be done before the growing season beings in earnest. We want to get our second season off to a bang so on Sat March 2nd from 10am we are having a…


Everyone is welcome whether it’s your first time to the garden or 100th, we have lots to do- fixing the fences, moving the shed, laying more of our super pathway, sowing seeds and enjoying many a brew from our handy storm kettle! It’s a perfect way to dust off the winter cobwebs and get the garden off to a roaring start.


 Our regular volunteer hours come back into force from the 1st March. Thurs 10-1pm, Sat 10-1pm and Sun, 12-3pm. Spread the word far and wide. Volunteers are the life and soul of the garden and we could do with lots more hands this year. For more information email us at mfcommunitygarden (@)