Welcome to Abbey Gardens, a community garden in West Ham
surrounding part of the ruins of a
12th century abbey.

There are free garden club sessions and new gardeners are always welcome. The garden is open to visitors from dawn till dusk.


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In the garden:

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Gardening sessions take place on
Tuesdays 1pm-3pm
Thursdays 4pm-7pm
Saturdays 10am-4pm

Winter gardening sessions

Though our three gardening sessions a week are finished for the 2017 season, there’s plenty still to do over the Winter. So come along to our Winter gardening sessions and help with planting, composting, harvesting and maintenance:

Saturday 2nd December 11am-4pm (with hot drinks and mince pies for volunteers)
Saturday 13th January 11am-4pm
Saturday 3rd February 11am-4pm

Image: garlic planting, picture (and planting) by Dasha French

A round of applause for our garden community

With nights drawing-in, leaves on the ground and overwintering plants in for next Spring, it’s time to say thank you to all of the people in our community who give so generously of their time, energy, skill and talent:

Our volunteer gardeners of all ages, from all corners of our community – whether you come along several times a week or just once in a while, you make the garden grow
Torange, our Chair, and our board of trustees, who put in time on strategy and fundraising
Dasha, treasurer and organiser of our Chilli Festival
Kate, who takes the minutes at our meetings
Tim, Louis, Mike and everyone who’s helped out on infrastructure and tech this year
Cath, who donates design time for our event posters and flyers and runs our Twitter and Instagram feeds
Everyone who bakes and cooks for our events
Everyone who’s had an idea and run with it (step forward, compost queen Nancy and mulching marvel Marie)
Old garden friends who come back to help us with their specialist knowledge (thank you, Hamish)
Veteran gardener, innovator and thinker Charlie, who’s been directing operations on our second greenhouse, built, like the first, to his design

And a special mention for our welcoming and fearless garden club leader Alison, our one paid worker, who cheerily goes beyond the call of duty coming up with ideas for things we can make with the plants we grow.

Our community made this garden and the garden has made a community. Thank you, everyone.

Our last drop-in gardening session of the season is on Saturday 4 November 11am-4pm, with our garden meeting at 2pm to catch up on news and discuss plans. See you next season and meanwhile, look out for any special sessions or gatherings over the Winter.

 

Our honesty stall: a bit of countryside in West Ham

Honesty stalls. They’re common in the countryside but a bit of a treat to find tucked-away in an urban neighbourhood.

Our very first honesty stall was when the garden was still an overgrown patch of wasteland. Local resident and one of the founders of the project Andreas put up a stall for apples from the tree on the site.

Now we have a purpose-built stall and on it goes the surplus produce harvested at our community gardening sessions. We like to make a mixture of produce – and the variety of veg and fruits that we grow often offers a chance to try something new. The best times to look out for produce are after our free drop-in gardening sessions: Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm.

So if you live in the neighbourhood, commute from Abbey Road DLR station or you’re just visiting, come by, take a bag and leave a donation. Or even a note! (Thank you, neighbours!)

Community fun at the Chilli Festival

What a turnout for the Chilli Festival! It’s been lovely to see old friends and new friends from all corners of our community trying delicious cakes, bakes and savouries, making mini chilli hats and listening to mellow music. And our fashion-fabulous scarecrow costume winner got a garden goodie bag to fill up.

A massive Abbey Gardens thank-you to singer Anna Aarons and guitarist James Tony Bennett. Applause, too, to all of our event volunteers, lending their time, energy and skills to organisation, cooking, publicity, activities, setting up and clearing up.

If you’ve visited the event and would like to join in with our free drop-in gardening sessions, there’s still plenty to do before the end of the season. Sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Drop by at any point in the session; tools and gloves are provided.

Pictures: Cath French and Lydia Thornley

Abbey Gardens Chilli Festival, Saturday 7th October

Abbey Gardens Chilli Festival
Saturday 7th October 12 noon – 3pm

An event for all ages

Taste chilli dishes from all corners of our community
Make a chilli hat
Chilli pattern face painting
Come as a scarecrow for our Scarecrow Fashion Show competition
Know your food? Find out in our nutrition quiz
Live music
And our ever-popular tea and cake stall… with some extra chilli flavours!

Teas, coffees, cakes and honesty stall produce for donations to the garden

A community effort

At Abbey Gardens, we garden together and we harvest together at our drop-in community gardening sessions. This Saturday, we’ve had gardeners of all ages joining in – a little’un finding a potato shaped like a snowman, compost queen Nancy turning waterer for the day, cheery yellow tomatoes picked by Lorna and our young helpers, coriander thinnings gathered by Dasha and the first parsnip lifted by garden club leader Alison.

We’ve had our garden meeting where we’ve discussed latest news, plans and ideas. Everyone interested in the garden is welcome – the next one will be on Saturday 4 November at 2pm in the garden

And there’s been time to enjoy the flowers: just right for the sunshine, we’ve spotted some beautiful ice cream coloured blooms.

On the honesty stall this week: bags of tomatoes, artichokes and chard for donations.

Dates for your diary:

Saturday 23 September: Mulching day! We have a munching machine for the day so come along and help prepare cleared plants for compost at our drop-in gardening session 11am-4pm.

Saturday 7 October: The Abbey Gardens Chilli Festival – look out for more information here and on facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Our free, drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. You don’t have to stay for the whole session – stay for as much or as little time as you can spare.

The garden is open to visitors from dawn ’til dusk. If you’d like to try the food that we grow, look out for produce for donations on our honesty stall, come to our events or join us for some community gardening.

If you’d like to get involved in helping with organisation, admin, events or as a trustee, let us know.There are many people and skills that help to make our garden grow.

 

 

Maria’s mulching marvel

It’s hard work, clearing. You’re not just wrenching plants out of the raised beds; there’s an awful lot of chopping to do to get them ready for the compost. So when volunteer Maria turned gardening superhero this Saturday, announcing that she had got a great deal on hire of a mulching machine and friend-funded the cost, we were very happy indeed.

But superheroes just don’t stop… several barrowloads of clearing later, as if by magic, magnificent bouquets had appeared, made from cutting flowers and garden clearings.

The machine is booked for Saturday 23rd September – so if you fancy joining us to feed it, come along to the gardening session (11am-4pm).

Thank you, Maria!

Our drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thorsdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm.

Corporate volunteers and the horseradish challenge

There are tasks around the garden that groups of volunteers can make light work of – and that’s where our corporate volunteers come in. They maintain paths, chop up cleared plants ready for compost, shift materials around for build projects, set up supports ready for climbing plants, do epic amounts of weeding… they’re made of tough, cheery stuff.

But then, garden club leader Alison throws down [pause for drum roll] the horseradish challenge. We have a raised bed full of the stuff and it’s a beast to pull up. So take a bow, all who’ve stepped forward and emerged victorious with this toughest of roots!

Pictured above, the marvellous team from HSBC who came to us via ELBA (East London Business Alliance) and their horseradish challengers.

And a big Abbey Gardens thank-you to all of our corporate volunteers – including teams from Mace Group, Morgan McKinley, MJ Mapp and via Benefacto. You make a massive difference to our lovely community garden.

To find out more about corporate volunteering at the garden, contact ELBA, Benefacto, get in touch with us or drop by one of our community gardening sessions (Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm).

 

Mindfulness and tomato maintenance: the quiet rhythm of community gardening

Mindfulness and tomato maintenance. It’s an odd combination but chatting over a garden clearing job, we agreed that the quiet rhythm of gardening is a meditative thing. So just as we give the tomatoes space to ripen, we can give ourselves space to let ideas flow, enjoy the peace of the garden, be amongst nature and get some mental refreshment. All while helping maintain this beautiful urban green space and being part of a community of gardeners.

On the honesty stall this Saturday: chard and cherry tomatoes.

Fancy joining us? Our free, drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays from 1pm-3pm, Thursdays from 4pm-7pm and Saturdays from 11am-4pm. We also hold regular community events: watch this space for details of our Harvest Festival on Saturday 30th September.

 

 

Spud Saturday: bringing in the potato harvest

Potatoes. Useful, versatile, even – but you probably wouldn’t put ‘potatoes’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence… unless you’ve had a go at growing them. Lifting potatoes is like digging-up treasure: one plant can have an astonishing variety of spud sizes, from enormous right down to pearl-sized. And then there are the comedy veg (this year, we give you duck potatoes). Harvest done, the soil is in lovely condition and the tops have been chopped-up for compost. Our Saturday gardeners have had potatoes to take home and we’ve had plenty left for the honesty stall. If you’re passing the garden, take a bag and put a donation in the coin slot.

So, what’ll it be? Jacket potato, roasties, chunky chips, mash or salad?

If you’d like to join in with our food growing and find out how to grow your own, join us at our free drop-in gardening sessions: Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm.