The contractors (Gerald Davies Ltd) finished work on the Community Garden on 6 March, when the compacted red gravel pathways were completed.
On 14 March, Stuart Hockley led work on subdividing the plots with wooden planking, helped by Keith Hatton and Rob McGhee of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Community Foodie initiative. I helped with a couple of borders, including the one to my own plot.
A secure shed was erected on the concrete area at the back of the site. Four deep beds have also being set up in this area. Giles Metcalf has worked on the deep beds and the wood from the cut trees, some of which will be used in the garden.
More recently, screening has been placed along the far fence by the shed to provide the neighbour on that side with more privacy.
A tap now provides water in the garden. Rain water is also being collected off the shed roof in a storage tank.
On Sat 16 March, the official hand-over took place. Elizabeth Millard collected the money, in her role as chairperson of the Dinas Powys Resident’s Group (who have taken on the lease of the land from the council), and Plot Holder Agreement forms were signed. Merry Metcalf took on the role of garden secretary on a temporary basis, making sure all the necessary paperwork was in order for the handover.
Charges are being made according to plot size: £1 per metre squared. This should raise £537 in the first year toward water rates and other running costs of the garden, which now needs to be self-financing.
Councillor Keith Hatton, who co-initiated the project and has been involved throughout, along with Rob McGhee, welcomed local residents on hand-over day. They explained arrangements for the combination locks (on the gate, shed and water tap) and future plans for the garden (e.g., greenhouses). Plot-holders were reminded not to park on nearby grass verges, not to hang coats over fences, not to walk mud onto the public footpath, and generally respect the fact that the garden is in a residential area. An official Opening Day is being planned for May or June.
The first plants in at Nightingale Community Garden were broad beans transplanted by Angela Peterken and her team. Angela is working with five families associated with Dinas Powys Infants School on the garden’s largest plot.
Unfortunately, the weather during the first couple of weeks was very cold and wet. This, together with the heavy clay soil that is hard work to dig over and retains the water, meant that little work got done during the rest of March.
Many of the plots were rotavated on 11 April to help break up the clay. This made a big difference. Sand and grit is also coming this week, for those who want to work it into their plots.
On Sat 13 April, this rhubarb was the first thing I planted in my plot.
I expect when spring eventually does arrive, we will see more action on the gardening front and I’ll report next month on developments. In the meantime, a group from Nightingale Community Garden, myself included, went on a Community Foodie-organized trip to the Riverside Community Garden (Coed Hills near St Hilary in the Vale of Glamorgan) to pick up some tips. That will be the subject of my next post in this strand of the food blog.