Our community has grown, ebbed and flowed. Considering the small community that is Okehampton we have a very diverse group of members.
We soon outgrew the original tea hut; such fond memories
Our lovely friends at the Woodland Trust helped improve our facilities with an assortment of seats and a picnic table
In November 2014 Fran and Linda attended one of the Eden Project’s Big Lunch Extra camps and were inspired to host a Big Lunch at the community garden. We had our first Big Lunch in June 2015.
The event really helped put the community garden on the map.
A milestone had been reached and a whole new group of people popped up and started helping out in the garden.
With a new team forming there was a burst of activity in the garden.
The lads cleared a pile of gravel to make way for the rescued sensory garden created by the Prince’s Trust gang. It enabled us to clear away the overgrown grass and weeds at the entrance, using up the gravel and the start of making the community garden more welcoming and vibrant.
It’s difficult to see in the first picture that there is indeed a herb wheel! The lads dug it up and salvaged what they could of the original frame. One of our community gardening days saw the compost pile being put to good use as the herb wheel came into action.
The entrance to the garden looks much more vibrant and as a result we don’t get people dropping off rubbish, fly-tipping in the entrance.
The steering committee came up against various obstacles. As any community led project knows there are always life events that result in people having to withdraw from any project and the community garden has seen it’s fair share of changes in the short time it has been running.
In 2014 the committee lost 3 or 4 key members for various personal reasons. It was down to a skeleton crew of 4, on a good day…there was a fear that the project may have to be abandoned.
The wonderful thing about a great project, such as the community garden, is that someone always pops up to to rescue it. And in June 2014 a new Chairperson was appointed and a new wave of engagement followed.
Certain areas had become overgrown and neglect was evident everywhere. Slowly but surely the garden would be brought back into use.
The Children’s Area
The first area to be brought back into use was the children’s area. There was a lot of work to do, the tyres had become full of docks and dandelions, everywhere else was covered in plantain and daisies. A lot of backbreaking work later and the area had a new lease of life with new plants planted in the tyres by our younger members.
The polytunnel was an exciting little project. This was undertaken in two parts. Unfortunately it was a bit of a dull, wet day the day the frame was erected. After some head scratching the frame went up. The committee saw another wave of change and it took several weeks before we were able to get a crew together to put on the cover. The weather was a complete contrast to the first part of the job, it was a baking hot day, even at 4pm it remained blisteringly hot, we became concerned that no-one was actually going to show up to help. Slowly our fears were laid to rest as people popped in and did their bit to help. There was a real buzz in the air as everyone mucked in.
Help came in many forms at the community garden.
The cadets helped instate the community composting area, the compost loos and what has since become known as the children’s area.
Waitrose have show us tremendous support having entered us into their community giving programe more than once. We were awarded some funds to pay for an orchard when Waitrose were celebrating their 75th year of being in partnership with John Lewis
Bostock’s Garden Centre supplied plants
We continue to benefit from the generous donations from the kind people of Okehampton.
In 2012 a small group of volunteers got together to form the original steering committee to develop the community garden project.
Some amazing work was undertaken in the first few months of the project opening.
The cadets came along and helped install our compost loo in the shed generously donated by Country Lanes Garden Center in Okehampton
They also helped set out the children’s area.
What a great bunch of youngsters
In the beginning it there was the blank canvas, a massive 3 acre site to be converted into a community garden. HogCO helped organise a public meeting in October 2011 where Okehampton United Charity floated the idea of a community garden. The meeting was well attended and following a second public meeting a core ‘steering group’ of people took the idea forward. Okehampton Community Garden (OCG) officially took on the lease of the site on 1st April 2012 from Okehampton United Charity for a peppercorn lease of £25 per annum during the first term of site occupation.
A wide strip of land was ploughed in the first week of the lease by the North and East Dartmoor Vintage Working Society and recently rotovated by Mr Vallance in exchange for a contribution for his olympic award. The first lot of manure was donated and delivered from Andy Ewen at Okehampton Glass and the bore hole was dug by Follaton Plant confirming a good supply of water to the site.
Brigadier Rob Thomson visited the site prior to the arrival of 66 army officer cadets to assist with the construction of the community composting areas, raised beds and key growing areas. On 19th June Major General Tim Evans Commandant of the Royal Military Academy visited the site to look at the progress achieved by the cadets.
The community garden also benefited from the assistance of a group of volunteers from the Prince’s Trusts ‘Team Programe’
The sensory garden was created and the compost bins built