Neglected Stevenage community garden revamped and reopened

PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 October 2017

Helped by Joanne House, the 1st Great Ashby Brownies did weeding, picked litter and planted bulbs at the Oval Community Garden as part of their adventure badge.

Helped by Joanne House, the 1st Great Ashby Brownies did weeding, picked litter and planted bulbs at the Oval Community Garden as part of their adventure badge.

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An overgrown community garden has been revamped and brought back into use after it was abandoned more than a year ago.

The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage has been revamped and reopened. The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage has been revamped and reopened.

The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage had been maintained by St Nicholas and Martins Wood Children’s Centre, which used it for various activity programmes.

Joanne House, a teaching assistant and mother-of-two, explained: “It is a small fenced-off garden tucked away by the community centre.

“It used to be cared for and managed by the children’s centre, but they stopped a year or so ago and it was left abandoned, soon to be ripped out and turned back into plain grassland.

“I was frustrated with the state of the once bright and welcoming much-needed community space. The grass was overgrown, it was covered in litter, the wooden structures were being vandalised and it was being used by young adults as a place to drink and smoke.”

The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage has been revamped and reopened. The Oval Community Garden in Stevenage has been revamped and reopened.

So late last year Joanne approached Stevenage Borough Council and initially offered to tidy it up a bit. She actually went on to set up an action group - Friends of The Oval Community Garden.

Joanne said: “I gained the support of local councillors Sarah Mead and Maureen McKay, who both kindly donated a share of their local budget so we could pay for some repairs, new plants, bark chippings and a lawn mower.

“Unfortunately the sandpit had to be emptied for health and safety reasons, but we hope visitors will make use of the newly-created seating.”

The garden has now reopened to the public. Joanne said: “It has been hard going and I spend a lot of my free time there, but I enjoy it and it has been worth it.

“Lots of people visit, whether it’s just to sit in the sunshine, to eat their lunch or to watch their children play in the willow dome.”

Volunteer ‘garden guardians’ are needed to help with the upkeep and to make it an even better outdoor space next summer.

Joanne said: “The 1st Great Ashby Brownies came to help and made a great difference by weeding, litter picking and planting bulbs, mostly in the pouring rain.”

To volunteer, email ovalcommunitygarden@gmail.com or turn up between 1pm and 3pm on the first Saturday of each month.

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