Community garden opens to applause

The opening of the community garden, Western Road, St Leonards

The opening of the community garden, Western Road, St Leonards

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THE Moveable Feast Garden opened to rapturous applause marking the transformation of a derelict plot of land into a community resource.

Last Friday (June 29) scores of people packed into the garden, at 47-49 Western Road, St Leonards, to see the results of the hard work put in both on and off-site by the team of volunteers behind the project.

Moveable Feast is a container garden with a difference, with all the fruit and vegetable plants in tyres, crates, or builders’ sacks, and laid on pallets to make it completely mobile - a definite first for St Leonards, and possibly the UK. The team behind it are some of the founder members of the St Leonards Wonky WI, which has an agenda less cake-making, more campaigning.

Led by Nicole Collomb and Sally Walton, the team were inspired by the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden, in West Yorkshire, which grows and campaigns for local food.

The garden was officially declared open by council leader Jeremy Birch, and mayor Alan Roberts, who had in fact spent a morning shovelling shingle as part of the team from Quadron who came to help out several weeks ago.

Sally said of the opening: “I absolutely loved it, just looking at everyone’s happy faces. There were so many people I had never seen before.”

The Moveable Feast Garden began to take shape in April, when temporary use of the site was granted by the owner Roost.

Hastings Borough Council paid for planning permission for a temporary change in land use, and cleared the site. Orbit South made a contribution, and the Women’s Institute gave a grant toward soil and plants.

Since then the project has received a huge amount of support, including money, equipment and manpower, from local businesses and members of the public. The response from the community of St Leonards has been overwhelmingly positive. As volunteers have been working on the garden, passers-by have been stopping to chat, and some have grabbed a spade and got stuck in.

Sally said: I think it’s going really well, just having the fence up means that there are people all day coming up to see what’s going on.”

The hard work is not over yet however, as the garden needs constant care, and it has yet to be firmed up exactly how best to maximise its potential as a community resource.

Although, the garden received a boost this week, as an application for a grant of £4,300 from the Foreshore Trust was accepted.

This will pay for a part-time gardener to open the garden for a set number of hours per week, and to give gardening advice and care for the plants. Find out more, and follow the progress of the Moveable Feast Garden online at moveablefeastgarden.wordpress.com or email mfcommunitygarden@gmail.com.