THE OPENING

This is a quick post. The garden opened last night and the team effort has achieved a staggering amount in the past week. We started as a group of women with a plan and now there’s a community garden but we couldn’t have done it without the men who came to help us. It’s great that they weren’t fazed by joining up with the Wonky WI – so thanks Kevin, Mark and Peter in particular.


We’ve got tons of great pictures but I wanted to quickly put this one up.
We had more trees than we were expecting delivered at lunchtime so spent a couple of hours of concerted effort clearing a new area, getting tyres, having more compost delivered, and planting them out.

It was beautiful to see happy children playing tag around them 3 hours later!
More pictures to follow soon.

One sad thing – our thoughts go out to the insprational Incredible Edible in Todmorden who have experienced terrible flooding which must have swept much of their planting away.

IT’S TROWEL TIME

The past month has been a bit of a slog to be honest. We’ve shovelled hardcore, carried buckets of bricks and raked up things we would rather not have. The weather has thrown everything but snow at us and though none of us would have chosen it we wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We feel like we belong here now, in a way we never would have if professionals had prepared the site for us. Now we’re ready to grow.

I picked up plants we bought from Friary Gardeners then Nicole and I went to the Hastings Garden Centre to choose our £200 worth of plants. We did a bit of a ‘garden centre sweep’, smiled for the photographer and raced back to offload. Half an hour later I  planted our first plant,a bronze fennel, in our herb bed.

We had so many new people come over to see what’s happening and half our time is now spent talking and explaining this wonderful community garden idea to passers by.
The concept of a group of people clearing away the ugly and inviting people they’ve never met in, to grow and share will take a while for some to grasp. Others simply get it straight away and before we have time to finish the intro they’re asking where the gardening gloves are and filling a wheelbarrow.

On Monday a team from Quadron Services came to help us in a big way and one of them was the actual Mayor of Hastings who shovelled shingle in a high viz jacket alongside the rest of us all morning.
The BBC have been in touch and plan to come and film us for BBC South East on Friday.
And so it grows.

Our new friend Peter was a stalwart of last week’s doomed shed building and took its destruction on the chin. So he’d absolutely earned the fun he had recreating our logo today by planting up the abandoned shopping trolley we found on the site.

THE SHED

We harboured the idea of a shipping container (spot the nautical reference) and between the two of us Nicole and I have seen hundreds online in many states of repair and she has actually inspected three on a building site. We could picture the funky thing on the site, maybe with a flipped up front with a counter and someone serving portions of home grown soup. But that dream ended when we realised we’d need a crane to get it in place. That would cost the earth and involve closing a one way street. So we compromised and looked at endless  pictures of identical metal sheds online.
We had received a donation of £300 for a shed so we ordered a green one.  It arrived flat-packed in a large box and was surprisingly light for a 6ft x 8 ft building with a floor.  We should have smelled a rat and sent it back, but we’re desperate and a nice man called Peter who we’d chatted to through the gate said he’d give us a hand to put it up. That was yesterday.

Things got off to a bad start with Ollie cutting his finger unpacking the panels which meant he had to go to the doctors surgery on the first strike day in 40 years. They gave him a tetanus jab …and then he came back to help.

It really was a great day in so many ways, we had new volunteers who soon worked as a very efficient team, filling the wheelbarrow, running it across the site and filling the containers.

Then a wonderful thing happened – Lashmi (apologies for my phonetic spelling) and Bala from the legendary Taj Mahal restaurant brought the gift of us a lovely hot lunch.

After lunch the shed erection went on, and on.

The panels were wobbly, the fixings were fiddley and the weather turned piddley. Everyone with school-aged children had to leave and the rain began to pour down on us. We left the shed as secure as we could make it and the weather took a turn for the worse. The gales raged all night and I went down to inspect the damage just after 7am.

The shed was all wonky, ripped apart and barely standing and by ten it had fallen down and blown across the site. The weather was still wild, so Peter and I put our gloves on and dragged it to a safe place and piled tyres onto it to stop it blowing away.

Or….if this was written by a 5 year old ..
We got a shed and put it up.
A very big gale came in the night and blew it down.
The End.

GIVE ME A SIGN ….

When we thought about making a garden we pictured it GREEN with produce overflowing the containers  and covering the white plastic-ness of them. There were vegetables everywhere and fruit and flowers and birds & bees. And there will be – but not quite yet.

The garden is open from next Friday and right now there seems an awful lot to do before our vision becomes reality

For instance the garden needs a sign and this is my sort of job.

Here’s how I spent my afternoon.

GROUNDWORKS

Two very hard-working guys, Jason and Hassan, from Veolia came to help us last Wednesday and their main task was to clear the debris and buddleia roots away so that it would be all clear for fencing. Determination is great but sometimes there nothing quite like man-power to lift and shift.

Saturday was our first big volunteer work day. The men from Tate fencing  were on site first thing and after a slight misunderstanding about the position of the gates, they got stuck in. We now have a pair of very big gates but the old blue hoarding had to go back up, so still no fence…yet!
Saturday was a joy though and everyone who came along really got stuck into the hard work of levelling the end of the site. It was real chain gang stuff – shovelling and carrying rocks and rubble, spreading shingle and laying down pallets for the containers. There is nothing quite like working hard together when the sun shines – and luckily it came out and did just that, as did everyone who came to help. We achieved!

This week the meadow seed is being delivered and we have some topsoil to spread before that can be sown. We’ve also ordered a metal shed with donated money ( thank you)
and we’ve got helpers coming on Thursday to put it up – weather forecast is grim, so that might speed things up! Tomorrow is another volunteer workday and may be our first chance to put some compost in the containers – I’m desperate to take some pictures of green growing stuff as most of these look like we’re on an archaeological dig in Palestine.
Official Garden opening at 6pm on 29th June.

RAIN and delays

Frankly we’ve had enough of this, so whoever is doing the very effective rain dance – could you please stop now?

I have been putting off posting on the blog in the hope that I’d have pictures of something other than soggy seedlings in containers, but alas we are still not on site! Getting planning permission passed was a cause for celebration and we followed that up with a public meeting last week. It was great to see new enthusiastic faces in the room and we are anxious not to lose their energy with further delays. The seedlings that have managed to dodge the snail and slug onslaught are desperate to get their roots into their permanent containers. Not long now.

Local businesses have been amazing and generous with their help and we would like to thank Best Demolition for bringing their digger/bulldozer along to level the site and take away the rubble.  Veolia are donating all our compost …and have been great and now even more great by lending us a team of men to help lay out the garden and fill the containers; Stamco are delivering 50 wooden pallets and 50 builders sacks to be filled; Chessington Tyres are giving us tyres for planters and Tate Fencing are coming to install a chainlink fence with gates! Phil Oakley is providing us with a security lights to be fixed to Tim Nathan’s wall and Mark Dicker, Amir and Chris from the local community police have been very helpful and supportive.

A VERY BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU from all of us.