Blue skies and sunshine brings explosion of activity around the garden

The beginning of February didn’t just bring the great news about the funding from the lottery, it also brought blue skies and sunshine. Volunteers came along to help us dispose of rickety old sheds, extending the polytunnel as well as other jobs around the garden.

The garden is run by volunteers and mainly funded by small grants from Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council, Okehampton Town Council, Okehampton Rotary, Okehampton Untied Charity, West Devon Brough Council and Devon County Council. As soon as regulations changed we started organising volunteers, keen to get out and do something after a long winter lockdown, especially with the sun shining.

A group helped extend the polytunnel and get a new cover on it. We also put down a membrane to help keep the weeds at bay.

We have been in need of a decent compost area within the garden for a long time. The next project was to erect 3 compost bays with a dry store at the end.

It was time to make the signs next to the entrance a little more secure and make room for a notice board underneath the community garden sign. Still a work in progress. We also had some funding to add a porch to the shed, mainly to help reduce water ingress around the front doors. We put trellis up for plants to grow up and have planted evergreen clematis and honeysuckle. It’s going to look magnificent when the plants have got established. And we thought we would give the shed a coat of Ronseal, it all looks quite smart.

A great start to the year!

The community garden is now in its 10th year and some of our facilities needed a bit of an upgrade. The space is now used in many different ways, we have regular campfire evenings, Outdoor Tai Chi and more recently, meditation sessions. Our neighbours are a pretty busy Men in Sheds group and so we wanted to create a private little Idaho for our well-being sessions.

This was going to be quite a big and expensive job. We applied to the National Lottery’s Local Connections fund to help us upgrade our facilities and create a beautiful space for our well-being sessions. Early in February we received the fantastic news that we had been awarded the grant. All work had to be completed by the end of March! In normal circumstances this would have been a breeze, but we had a few supply challenges to overcome, but we made it!

After a few discussions we realised that the best solution to deal with a problem area within the garden was to have some of the top ‘soil’ scraped off, in an area approx. 500m2, and this soil/sawdust/weeds mix was used to create a bank. We plan to keep the bank looking pretty wild, mixing up things like geranium, corn flower, ferns and primroses in with wild flowers like poppies and pink campion. We have also added a few trees for stability.

The first job was to take down the old toilet shed. This had been propped up with posts for the past 5 years.The posts were starting to rot and various sections of the shed were rotten.

A top layer of weeds and sawdust being scrapped off ready for grass seed to go down. The bank will remain pretty wild but there will be some bits colour added. We have hedging to be planted along the fence-line of willow and dog wood, along with wild roses. The ground is now flat, making it better for activities, such as Tai Chi. The bank and new hedge will offer privacy for participants.

Our ‘little’ Shed ~ the story so far

May 2017
Clearing the ground ready to build our shed

July 2017
A few months later the posts went in the ground

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The waterproof membrane and cladding go up

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The joists for the floor

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The base floor goes down

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Now to protect the floor from the rain as best we can

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All the cladding in place

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The roof timbers go up

Dec 2017
And just before the snow arrives we have a roof!

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The partition wall to separate the workshop/storage area from the tea room

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Our first reclaimed window goes in

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A little problem has sprung up, with water getting in somewhere

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Our first event using the shed…The Big Lunch…the front view of the shed

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Arts and crafts ready for the kids at The Big Lunch

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Reclaimed doors from a nearby school

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A few adjustments

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The guttering goes up along with the tank for rainwater harvesting

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The bespoke cabinets are all up

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Time to get insulating the ceiling

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The leak all fixed, we can now get on with insulating and lining the shed

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Anyone who turned up got roped into painting the shed

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Another reclaimed window gets fitted

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Let there be light!

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The final reclaimed window is fitted

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All the doors and windows fitted; doesn’t it look smart!

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All the hard work is really paying off as the shed starts to look homely

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Lovely light and airy space

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Our first Tai Chi group enjoying tea in our new shed

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Still a bit of work to do on the workshop side of things

The Beauty of Nature

The flower bed took shape after the pile of woodchip had been used up around the garden. The woodchip had been in a pile for two years so the weeds would be under control and so we decided to throw together a flower bed.  People offered us plants until the flower bed was overflowing.

I think you’ll agree the style is slightly boho but it works.  It is a small haven within the garden to attract pollinating insects.

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Blooming Polytunnel

This year we saw a raised bed being installed into the polytunnel.  Community gardeners went along and collected horse manure from a friend with horses.  We managed to get enough to fill up one side of the polytunnel.

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Roy filled the polytunnel up with seedlings of lettuce and kale and sewed some radish seed.  Henry planted out some tomatoes and peppers at the far end of the polytunnel.

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We had harvests of lettuce, radish, kale and now have the first signs of aubergine poking through the blossoms.  When the first lot of lettuce was all harvested we replaced it with cut and come again lettuce.  Some spinach has now been sown in place of the radish.

A Chilly Day in April

The community garden involves people from all different backgrounds

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We have had a lovely gentleman, Roy, who came to the garden this year and has become quite a presence in the garden. He built a structure under which he grew broad beans, peas, onions, kale, beetroot and runner beans.

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We also have a small group, funded by Learn Devon, who come up and help school children plant some vegetables

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