Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flourish Community Garden

Surveying the garden from the activities shed

“It's not truly a community garden but a garden run by me for the community,' Kate Turner said as she enthusiastically told me all about Flourish, the community garden in Frimley Lodge Park near Camberley, Surrey. Ms Tagalong had stumbled across this garden whilst strolling along the Basingstoke canal with Mr Ideasman and having waited a while to speak to Kate, the instigator, was glad she did.

Kate has been working on this garden for just under a year and despite talking herself down has achieved wonders with a condemned playground in the council-run park.

As in Australia grants are hard to come by but she is funded for 15 hours a week with a local grant and the kindly Marks & Spencer helped set up the garden supplying raised beds, a large shed and other resources.

Kate's background in horticulture as a researcher for BBC Gardener's World and a stint as Head Gardener at a public school has left her passionate to work with both adults and children with special needs. With this in mind the raised beds are wheelchair friendly, of differing heights for young and old. 
Basingstoke Canal

But Kate has found she has generated funding by teaching Army wives, many of whom live in the area, how to begin gardening, how to grow in temporary containers, to grow portable things to accompany them as they move around.

Her biggest success was a Valentine's workshop and an Easter Hunt which generated a huge response with families queueing outside the gates before opening time! An idea for THCG to take on board.

Kate was slightly despondent that her 'Grow your own salad bowl' course didn't seem to be taking off but she said publicity hadn't been the best and the council 'had got things wrong and it had been quite tough.' It had been tough too in the garden with foxes scrabbling in beds, magpies teaching their babies to thieve the new seedlings and other small failures. This said, her successes have far outweighed the perceived failures.
Seedlings planted by local children

Ms Tagalong's head was spinning to hear all the ideas Kate wanted to do and had incorporated into her garden, a watercolour group, photography group, willow workshop, pumpking carving, Christmas wreath workshop and pre-school mini-beast trail.

With a 7 year waiting list for allotments in the area this kind of community garden makes sense and like THCG Kate has found that many families want to be involved, to have a social outlet and a place in which to play and nurture.

How lucky for Ms Tagalong to have met such a motivated young woman with ideas to share and knowledge to give.

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