East Harling community gardens to bring village together
Volunteer power has helped to create a community garden to be proud of, with more plans in the pipeline to improve and expand its use in the future.
Fourteen villagers in East Harling have volunteered to be part of the project since it began, working in staggered shifts for Covid-19 safety reasons to clear and dig over a patch of ground beside Poplars Play Area.
Raised beds have been added to make the garden fully accessible to all and, once it safe, children from the village primary school will be invited to visit the space, build hedgehog houses and plant seeds to bring the garden to life.
Kate Filby, 46, clerk of Harling Parish Council, said: “When the ground was cleared it was originally going to become another grassy area, but I looked at the size of what we had to work with and thought that we could do something better with the space.
“We’ve seen a spike in demand for allotment plots since the first lockdown, and gardening is becoming more popular.
“Most of the digging and clearing has been completed by our volunteers and it’s just the planting that’s required now.
“We’ve spoken to the local surgery to see if there might be therapeutic uses for the garden for people suffering with mental health issues and we have also contacted East Harling Primary School.
“It’s in a busy, central location with a compost area just around the corner, which makes it very accessible. We hope that it will be a space that can be enjoyed by people of all ages in the village.”
The initial clearance involved the removal of dead trees, shrubs and dozens of bags of rubbish during the summer, with the council agreeing to the community garden idea in July.
Parish councillor Liz Mould teamed up with two local residents with excellent gardening knowledge to lead the project, and a community Facebook page was created.
This helped catch the eye of local businesses Dutch Barn Nurseries and Anglian Tree Solutions, which, along with the generous residents of East Harling, donated plants, seeds, timber sleepers, wood chippings, funds and other items to the project.
Mrs Mould, 73, of Green Fields, said: “I’ve always enjoyed gardening and I love getting outdoors, so I thought I would volunteer. It’s great to be able to give back to the community.
“Anyone can come and tend to the garden and we’re hoping it will provide wellbeing benefits to those who might be going through a difficult time.
“Once it’s safe, we’d like to invite children from the local school to spend some time here and possibly bury a time capsule.
“Everything is progressing well – we have more bark arriving this week and a trellis coming for the climbing plants. We hope to get some more planting done this weekend. We’ve already planted bags and bags of bulbs.”
Safely distanced volunteer groups are hoping to create another raised bed in the coming days, while moving ahead with planting, spreading bark and building a grass path through the garden.