The old parks and garden depot that once supplied Swanage with its bedding plants is being turned into a community garden to promote wellbeing.
The Greengage Community Garden has recently signed a six year lease for the site just off Prospect Crescent that is owned by Swanage Town Council.
A friendly place for people to meet up
The aim is to return it to a fully productive garden producing fruit and vegetable as well as flowers and herbs, while providing a friendly place for people to meet up.
The site had been previously looked after by Dorset Wildlife Trust but at the end of 2020 the charity’s finances meant that it could no longer continue.
On hearing the news, local residents stepped in and now the garden operates under the umbrella of the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust.
Paul and Joanna Baird with regular volunteer Andrew Hill Brown. A donation in memory of their relative, Jay Goulding who died suddenly at the age of 27, has helped pay for fruit trees and wildflower seeds
The chair of the Greengage Community Garden, Bob Walters
“Help improve physical and mental well being”
The community garden is run by a management committee of six people, chaired by Bob Walters. He said:
“We’re here for the community – for anyone who will benefit from volunteering, whether they’ve had to move into a flat and lost their garden or just want to meet like minded people, or to help improve their physical and mental well being.
“It’s a very special place with a lovely greenhouse and it’s good to see it being used again. This project has certainly helped me, especially during lockdown. I used to be a sports teacher but I couldn’t keep on playing sports, so this has given me a new focus and made constructive use of my time.”
The hanging baskets are for Swanage Hospital
New recruit Pauline Lockett
“The core of everything here is gardening”
One of the main volunteers, who’s been part of the team since the beginning is Gina Rudge who says that coming here, ticks all the boxes for her:
“I get to meet people and do something that I love – gardening. The core of everything here is gardening. There’s a diverse age range among the volunteers but we’re all linked by the enjoyment of growing things and helping and supporting each other.”
Swanage resident Pauline Lockett recently retired and moved from a house to a flat with no garden. She has just started volunteering and said:
“After retiring I saw this as a chance to get involved in the community and it’s great as I can pop down here when I want to. There’s no pressure, as no one is relying on you – it’s very relaxed and you can stop for a coffee when you want!”
A balance between nature and tidiness
The garden doesn’t use herbicides or pesticides and tries to be wildlife friendly creating a balance between nature and tidiness.
Plans for the future include creating more links with local schools and groups and there’s also a hope to produce fresh fruit and vegetables for the Swanage food bank.
The Greengage Community Garden is open from 10 am to 3 pm most Fridays and anyone who wants to get involved is encouraged to just turn up. The garden is on the right, just off Prospect Crescent, before the allotments.
The greenhouse and site in 2017