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Empty Common Community Garden Blog: Lockdown and beyond

Charlotte Synge organiser of Empty Common Community Garden has written a fantastic blog describing the amazing goodness that has developed through the challenges of the COVID19 lockdown. Also this blog includes fantastic testimonials from Empty Common Community Garden participants about how they have benefitted from access to the harden over this challenging time. Well done Empty Common and Charlotte for putting into words how many of us feel.

Look out here for recent news and profiles about gardens and gardeners involved in the Cambridge Community Growing Group.

Cambridge Cyrenians Allotment Project

So its nearly 1 month since I visited Cambridge Cyrenians Allotment Project, and what a project it is. 4 Allotments on the Whitehill Allotment site, that have been transformed by the volunteers that work there, organised by the magnificent Ruth who is employed by Cambridge Cyrenians. Cambridge Cyrenians are a charity that provide accommodation and support for homeless people in Cambridge. The allotment site has been developed over the last 10 years and it shows. They have a barn, a bike shed made from recycled pallet wood, a beautiful greenhouse, an outdoor kitchen. As well as a very tidy and productive veg garden. Herbacous borders, a wildlife garden and pond, communal space with fire pit, Fruit Beds, raised beds and so much more.When I arrived some of the volunteers had just been collected in the beautiful beaten up Land Rover. They were then voting on what garden they wanted to develop next. Work goes on here right through the winter. The cold months are a time for planning and putting in place the infrastructure for new gardens. Last years was a seaside garden with deck chairs and raised beds of seaside plants. (I was told that this idea had come from a visit to Wells next to the Sea when some of the volunteers had had there first ever visit to the seaside).It was really a hive of activity, fixing fences, digging over new beds, moving compost, moving materials for the fire. There is beautiful art all around, from volunteers past and present. Ruth works with the team in such a constructive, respectful and motivational way its easy to forget that each person comes with all the problems that brought them to being homeless. Some people talk about there situation as you garden together. Some people take the opportunity to forget there worries as they work. But there can be no denying that through gardening they are producing a fantastic community space and gaining in confidence, strength, resourcefulness, and tolerance.Places like this are an inspiration. They are currently looking for a volunteer to help drive the Land Rover, collecting people to come and work on the allotment. I highly recommend it.Sandie Cain 16/10/19  

Rock Road Library Community Garden

Today I visited Rock Road Library Community Garden for the first time. I was welcomed by Anne the gardening group coordinator. I arrived at 10am with the idea that this might be a small border next to a library. Wow! How wrong could I be.At the front of the library is a magnificent display of summer colour, with Rudbeckia, and Cosmos overflowing, a small lawn. As I assisted the gardeners to split and lift a perennial a library user came and laid on the lawn in the sunshine and chatted to me about gardening.Then a small boy arrived on his bike with his dad. He asked “what are you doin” and I explained I was moving some of the plant into the back garden. I asked him if he grew anything and he told me he grows the biggest sunflowers. I shared with him a story about how my granddad used to grow sunflowers up his drain pipe and we would use small plastic pegs to make a smile on the face of the sunflower, and the smile would get bigger and bigger as it grew.But the garden at the rear of the library. Wow! A beautiful orchard garden, where 4 local residents worked together to weed, edge, plant, and turn the compost. When libraries across the countries are closing down, Rock Road Library is blossoming. You can borrow a book and sit in the dappled shade garden. You can bring your children in the garden whilst you read the paper. Not only that but the local residents come together 3x/year for Plant Swap Day, Abundance Day and Apple Day. Through these events they fund the garden. And through the support of volunteer gardeners they keep this beautiful garden alive for all the community.Here is also a community room, which they use for Film Club nights as well as other things.It was such a pleasure, on a Monday morning, to sit and drink tea at the end of an industrious 2 hours with like minded people. It really felt like we starting the week as we meant to go on, with a spring in our step and the sun on our backs.I should apologise for the lack of photographs. I was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take many.Sandie Cain23/08/19