Helen recently dropped in on the Shildon Alive Community Garden project to meet some budding gardeners, and to find out more about this green-thumbed initiative in Shildon.

The Shildon Community Garden was launched by St John’s Church as part of Shildon Alive. The team wanted to create something for people of all ages and backgrounds, where individuals and families can learn gardening skills and grow food alongside others in the community. The project has been running for around 6 years, and has grown from strength to strength.

Helen meets some aspiring gardeners
Helen meets some aspiring gardeners

There are two garden sites in Shildon. One is on Waverly Terrace, offering better access for disabled users, and the second – which Helen visited – is near Byerley Road. Each site is run by volunteer caretakers, who are often on hand to help new gardeners get started. Although there isn’t a mains water supply, the team collect rainwater in barrels, and there is a composting toilet for the brave at heart.

The gardens are Lottery funded, and for £2 per year anyone can get involved and make use of the raised beds and facilities in the garden. This fee goes towards insurance costs.

When Helen visited this week, young gardeners Amelia and Bryony were planting up a bed of winter onions and garlic, and were telling Helen about the harvest of peas and tomatoes they had enjoyed throughout the summer. Since school has been out for the holidays, they have been spending a lot of time in the garden, learning new skills from some of the older garden users.

Potatoes fresh from the ground
Potatoes fresh from the ground

During Helen’s visit, project lead Paula explained that the Community Garden plays its part in the wider Shildon Alive initiative, with produce from the gardens helping to stock up shelves of the community fridge project (Fridge for All). Fridge for All is an innovative solution to food waste. People are encouraged to pick up and donate items, sharing what’s available and using up fresh food. Through the gardens, people in the community can add something unique to this offering, sharing some of what they grow with their neighbours.

You can find out more about the Shildon Alive Community Gardens on their website, and on Facebook.

Cabbages grow very well in the garden
Cabbages grow very well in the garden
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