As part of the Orchard Project, a group of local residents visited Abbey Gardens (also a local growing project) in West Ham. This was an opportunity to visit a garden which has been established for over ten years as well as visiting their current chilli festival.
On 7th October, over 20 residents took a short taxi ride from Sandall House on the Old Ford Estate in Bethnal Green to the garden in West Ham. Participants have been made aware about the project through door to door leafleting by Jyoti (a resident of Sandall House on the Ranwell Estate just off Roman Road).
When visiting Abbey Gardens, the group was able to see how other community garden groups have organised their space. Abbey Gardens features a series of raised beds designed by an artist and all produce is communally cared for by local residents. Residents of Sandall House were given a tour of the space by Abbey Gardens leader; Alyson. Alyson drew the group’s attention to the plants that are growing and explained how the friends of Abbey Gardens secured and developed the space. Alyson also described how she looks after the plants by managing three weekly volunteer sessions.
Although it was a little rainy in the morning it soon brightened up, and the group was kept warm with spicy chilli soup made from produce grown in the garden as part of the chilli festival. Cakes were also enjoyed that were baked by local residents. Children made chilli hats in the community room at the end of the garden, and took part in a game to count all the beds in the garden. Children who spotted the most flower beds were awarded a houseplant to look after in their home.
This Orchard Project, supported by Public Works and Roman Road Trust, aims to create a community orchard and shared green space for the residents within the Old Ford Estate. It was launched in response to feedback from local residents, who wanted to make better use of the large areas of green space within the estate.
The visit was inspirational for the Orchard Project’s next planting day which will be held on Saturday 28th October. Local people are invited this event in which ten fruit trees will be planted in the community orchard in Butler Court.