There is probably a small area of abandoned land near where you live. Maybe you’ve thought it could be usefully converted into a community garden or allotments for local residents. Here in Dinas Powys, we have taken the first steps toward converted an abandoned play area into a community garden. I will outline the process in a series of posts, to demonstrate one way in which it can be done.
With Council spending cuts, the maintenance of children’s play areas has been one of the first things to suffer. There must be numerous former play areas around the UK that are now neglected. Concerns were raised last year about one such former play area, between Nightingale Place and Sir Ivor Place in Dinas Powys. It has become a drinking place for young people, and the resulting antisocial behaviour has become of concern to local residents. Therefore, Elizabeth Millard, Chairperson of the Dinas Powys Residents Group, and Councillor Keith Hatton (Plaid Cymru), initiated a project to secure this area with a fence and turn it into a place where local residents could grow their own food.
In the next few weeks, contractors will be met at the site in Dinas Powys. They will provide estimates for the costs of erecting fencing and clearing the ground. This information will be fed into the grant application process.
The first things to do on the ground will be to fence off the area; take up the rubber surface (which used to be under the play equipment) and the concrete; and remove the weeds, dig up tree roots, and cut back the encroaching hedge. Later, water will be bought into the site at a stand pipe (through Welsh Water) and a communal shed erected.
The layout within the area (920.88 square metres) will be determined at a later date, although it was estimated that around eight plots could comfortably sit within the site. Ideally, the site will be kept flexible to meet the needs of residents. The meeting discussed the possibility of both communal areas (e.g., communal orchard and seating area) and individual plots within the site.
A project like this offers significant improvements in the environment and the quality of life for local residents, especially those living in flats without gardens and those who look to gardening for exercise, recreation, and an extension of their social life.
I will follow progress step-by-step. It may make you look at that piece of derelict land in your own neighbourhood with fresh eyes. Can you envisage beans, potatoes, tomatoes and fruit bushes, instead of those weeds and lager cans?
The next meeting here in Dinas Powys will be held on 18 February at Murchfield Community Hall. I’ll keep you posted.
Creative Rural Communities: