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

Progress

New Job, new partnership: fresh opportunities at Abbey Gardens

We have two brand new opportunities this season:

Garden Leader – Part Time Job Opportunity
Download information http://www.abbeygardens.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Garden-Leader-Job-Opportunity-FOAG_rev18.03.pdf or scroll down for details.

Partnership Search
Download information http://www.abbeygardens.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Partnership-Search-FOAG_rev18.03.pdf or scroll down for details.

Garden Leader – Part Time Job Opportunity

Abbey Gardens is an open-access harvest garden in the East London borough of Newham where anyone is welcome to participate in the communal growing of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Unlike the traditional allotment system, at present no one has their own patch and users garden together at regular sessions led by an experienced gardener. The produce is shared among volunteers and is also available to the local community in return for donations from one of the garden’s two Honesty Stalls. Abbey Gardens has been operating for over 10 years, thanks to the tireless local support, effort and engagement that has enabled the initiative to endure beyond its planned 2 year lifespan. The Garden continues to bring the local community together through free gardening sessions, team building days for local organisations, health and wellbeing events, food & craft markets and an annual Harvest Festival.

The Abbey Gardens site is one of only two Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Newham and contains the remains of a 12th-century Cistercian abbey where monks once ran a kitchen garden. In 2006 a group of local residents formed Friends of Abbey Gardens, initially with the aim of rescuing the derelict site from vandalism and neglect. With the commissioning of an arts project entitled “What Will The Harvest Be?”, the plan was made to turn Abbey Gardens into an open-access park and harvest garden. The soil was found to be contaminated, but with time and effort this setback was overcome and a beautiful artist-designed harvest garden was created in 30 long raised beds.

The Trustees of the Garden, the founding artists and the volunteer community group are reaching out to find a new partner or organisation to move the garden to the next stage of evolution. In these roles, you have the opportunity to be involved in the evolution and improvement of a rare green space in urban London, which has incredible potential for creative and exciting gardening and social initiatives.

We are inviting expressions of interest in the position of:

Garden Activity Leader – Part time position – 12 noon – 4pm Saturdays April 2019 – December 2019

Key Responsibilities

  • Planning, resourcing and leading the weekly garden club sessions and implementing the garden planting scheme for each growing season.
  • Providing both individual and group hands-on tuition and encouragement to members of the public who want to use the garden.
  • Encouraging and recruiting new members of the group and maintaining a diverse volunteer interest
  • Ensuring the use of safe working practices at the site, both for volunteer gardeners, and the safety of the visiting public.
  • Conducting regular routine maintenance of the garden. .
  • Ensure that site building/s and tools are well-maintained and secured as necessary.
  • Recording garden activity (such as user numbers) accurately and distributing / collating supplied project evaluation materials as required.
  • Undertaking any other related responsibilities commensurate with the evolving objectives of the post and the evolution of the garden, as may reasonably be requested by the Managing Committee and Board of Trustees.

Person Specification

  • Enthusiastic and self-motivated person with a passion for getting people (of all ages and abilities) gardening and enjoying plants.
  • Strong technical knowledge of horticulture, natural and organic growing practices, and have an innovative and creative gardening approach.
  • Confident and clear communicator, able to share ideas and find solutions as the garden evolves activities and partnerships.
  • Commercially minded for the success of the garden, seeking new opportunities to make the garden successful and relevant to the local community and partnerships.
  • Local advocate for the project and comfortable working independently and in a collaborative team.

Please send your expressions of interest to: abbeygardens.e15@gmail.com by March 23rd 2019. Applications will be reviewed and selection process will take place w/c March 25th 2019.

www.abbeygardens.org

 

Partnership Search

Abbey Gardens is an open-access harvest garden in the East London borough of Newham where anyone is welcome to participate in the communal growing of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Unlike the traditional allotment system, at present no one has their own patch and users garden together at regular sessions led by an experienced gardener. The produce is shared among volunteers and is also available to the local community in return for donations from one of the garden’s two Honesty Stalls. Abbey Gardens has been operating for over 10 years, thanks to the tireless local support, effort and engagement that has enabled the initiative to endure beyond its planned 2 year lifespan. The Garden continues to bring the local community together through free gardening sessions, team building days for local organisations, health and wellbeing events, food & craft markets and an annual Harvest Festival.

The Abbey Gardens site is one of only two Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Newham and contains the remains of a 12th-century Cistercian abbey where monks once ran a kitchen garden. In 2006 a group of local residents formed Friends of Abbey Gardens, initially with the aim of rescuing the derelict site from vandalism and neglect. With the commissioning of an arts project entitled “What Will The Harvest Be?”, the plan was made to turn Abbey Gardens into an open-access park and harvest garden. The soil was found to be contaminated, but with time and effort this setback was overcome and a beautiful artist-designed harvest garden was created in 30 long raised beds.

The Trustees of the Garden, the founding artists and the volunteer community group are reaching out to find a new partner or organisation to move the garden to the next stage of evolution. In these roles, you have the opportunity to be involved in the evolution and improvement of a rare green space in urban London, which has incredible potential for creative and exciting gardening and social initiatives.

Abbey Gardens is a rare green space in Stratford that provides an opportunity for a local organisation to establish a new business opportunity or to expand on an existing venture. The 1 acre site is currently an open public space, which has historical significance and strong local and community support. Currently run as a not for profit community garden, the trustees and local volunteers are inviting a new partner to write the next chapter of the gardens’ history. We are open to discussions with potential partners that could contribute to the overall aims of the garden:

  • To build a strong local and community initiative to support health, wellbeing, social connections and positive mental health.
  • To engage a wide range of community groups in connecting with nature through planting, growing, harvesting, and maintaining a healthy green space in which to connect with nature.
  • To champion Abbey Gardens as an innovative and engaged community group, enthusiastic about building a positive and healthy future for the local area.
  • To build a sustainable business model to ensure the long term viability of the space, building on opportunities to sustain revenue and success of the garden space/land.

We’d love to hear from you and discuss your proposition for the garden space, please get in contact with your:

  • Proposal vision & overview
  • Intended timelines & resource requirements
  • Budget and financial plan
  • Key objectives

Please send your expressions of interest to:abbeygardens.e15@gmail.com by March 23rd 2019. Applications will be reviewed and selection process will take place w/c March 25th 2019.

www.abbeygardens.org

Start the season 2019

Got the gardening bug after the recent burst of Spring? Come and help get the garden ready for the season at our FREE volunteer-run community gardening sessions on Saturdays 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 March, 1pm-3pm. Come along for the whole session or drop in when you can. No experience necessary; tools and gloves provided. Children are welcome if gardening with a parent or carer.

Planning for a fruitful garden

Fruit tree pruning is highly technical stuff. It’s also strategic – you have to think about where you want the tree to go. So Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope from Somewhere, who designed the garden, followed our visioning meeting by applying some strategy to the espalier-trained fruit trees along the back wall.

It’s also been a pleasure to welcome new neighbours to our meeting, keen to get involved and bring their own stories and skills to the garden.

If you’re looking forward to getting outdoors for some Spring gardening, there will be informal Saturday volunteering sessions every Saturday in March from 1pm to 4pm, with trustee Marie Helson.

Pictured: Karen Guthrie. Nina Pope and founder member of Friends of Abbey Gardens Andreas Lang.

 

Future Vision of the Garden: a workshop on Saturday 2 February

Abbey Gardens has now been running successfully for 11 years. This is incredible, especially on limited resources. The garden has been managed primarily by volunteers since its conception and like any organisation, it needs to have a new life to be fit for the future.

We are hosting a visioning workshop session on:
Saturday 2 February 2019
10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Abbey Gardens Cabin – Bakers Row – E15 

This is open to all members, but we would very much like to have input from actively involved gardeners and behind the scenes volunteers.

Book your place by emailing Torange at:
Mail@abbeygardens.org

Clearing, sowing and wrapping-up: it’s Autumn in the garden, with news of our end-of-season sessions and Winter gardening

Autumn is full of variety at our community gardening sessions. On the approach to the garden, the morning glory planted by Charlie and dahlias planted by the garden’s designers Nina and Karen give a burst of colour. We’ve been doing so much end-of-season clearing that our compost queen Nancy needed helpers to haul it all into the store. A new gardener has has brought a meticulous approach to preparing cleared beds for green manure seed. Garden club leader Alison has gathered-in and shared-out all of the remaining green tomatoes for chutney, fried green tomatoes, soups and more. George has harvested other end of season crops to share. Lorna’s careful cutting back of the mint has enabled new growth to spring up between the Autumn leaves. And our new feathered garden visitor has been sighted again – we think she’s a female sparrowhawk. It’s a real treat to see her in our urban setting.

We’re coming up to the end of our 2018 gardening season:

Our regular weekly gardening sessions finish with our Tuesday session 30 October 1pm-3pm, our Thursday session 1 November 4pm until dusk and our Saturday session on 3 November from 11am-4pm.

Then there’s our Winter gardening session on Saturday December 1st, 11am – 3pm. which will be our final session for 2018. This will also be Alison’s last session as Garden Leader so please do come along for some festive treats and to say farewell and thank you to her! 

We will also have garden volunteer meetings on both Saturday November 3rd and Saturday December 1st, starting at 12noon.

Old friends, new friends: a sociable Saturday at Abbey Gardens

Our garden is for visitors as well as volunteers. The exchange of knowledge and news helps bring together our neighbourhood and our community of gardeners.

Veteran gardener, inventor and thinker Charlie has been involved with Abbey Gardens right from the beginning. Our artichoke plants, our comfrey beds, our sea kale and our tomato knowledge are all his work. He doesn’t get to the garden so often these days so it’s a treat to welcome him back on a visit, this time sporting an aubergine beanie hat. Daljit has brought meditation sessions to Abbey Gardens and new ways to use the herbs we grow for teas – and she drops by our community gardening sessions to help out. Garden club leader Alison introduces new visitors to the garden as well as running our drop-in gardening sessions.

There are always people working away on gardening task too: Lorna has been looking after the mint, George has tended and harvested garlic chives and spring onions, to share with the day’s gardeners and there’s been clearing of plants that are finished for the season and dead-heading of the calendula flowers to encourage the plants to keep on flowering.

Our free drop-in community gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Come along at any point during the session and give as much or as little time as you can spare. The garden is open to visitors every day from dawn ’til dusk.

Pictured top right, left to right: Charlie, Daljit and Alison; bottom left: Lorna.
The flowers are chilli flowers.

 

Local knowledge – horticulture and history in the garden

Our community garden is made by its people. Each person who comes to the garden brings something with them – plants, seeds, curiosity, skills, energy for getting things done, ideas, cake… and knowledge.

Today we had a visit from neighbours who told us about a fruit market that used to be nearby. Nancy’s know-how has given us our first batch of compost of the season from our own garden waste. And we had a rare and precious visit from veteran gardener Charlie, who left with sea kale and artichokes from plants given a strong start by his expert care – and a couple of freshly-baked rock buns to have with his tea.

One of the joys of gardening in this space is the variety of people that it brings together. It’s rare to walk out of the garden without learning something that you didn’t know when you came in.

Fancy joining us? Our free, friendly drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Tools and gloves are provided; no gardening experience necessary. Stay for the whole session, pop in to help for a short while or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

Fruitful gardening

Propagating, sowing, planting, weeding… for months in the garden, it’s all about preparation. Then, suddenly, crops are setting, fruiting, growing skywards and ready for supports (thanks, Cath, for the Bakers Row bamboo). Nothing goes to waste: clippings go to compost and crops finished and cleared to make space for new seedlings go onto the honesty stall. On a warm gardening day, there’s been iced mint tea made by garden club leader Alison. And thanks to trustee Marie, the cabin is all neat and tidy for our next flurry of Summer gardening.

Fancy joining us to help maintain this lovely green space, get active, discover new ingredients, swap gardening tips and meet the neighbours? Our free, friendly drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Tools and gloves are provided; no gardening experience necessary. Stay for the whole session, pop in to help for a short while or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

 

Planning, planting, harvesting, collecting

June! Time for planning Summer events, collaborations, activities and repairs at our volunteers’ meeting. We’ve been planting more seeds and seedlings donated by our volunteers – this week, bee-friendly flower mix and pumpkins – and seeing crops planted earlier in the season doing well. In our harvest for the day’s volunteers has been a surprise haul of new potatoes, self-seeded among other crops (we only harvest in gardening sessions or for our events, so that we harvest at the right time and can keep track of the crops we grow). And we’ve been collecting information, to build up a picture of activity over the season. And there’s been epic composting.

More events news soon…

Meanwhile, if you’d like to join us for some community gardening, our free, friendly drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Tools and gloves are provided; no gardening experience necessary. Stay for the whole session, pop in to help for a short while or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space. 

Working the land

Our gardeners are purposeful people: they turn up, often with seedlings or other garden goodies, and they get stuck in. Raised beds are dug over, compost tended, there’s planting, weeding and watering, help given where jobs need more than two hands… and there’s laughter and chat. Neighbours drop in to see how it’s going and this Saturday, there was a birthday picnic.

This week, Marie has planted marigolds among the runner beans to keep pests away, we have black cherry tomato seedlings propagated from Abbey Gardens saved seed, we’ve planted our first borlotti beans, borage has gone in for the bees, Ami has been thinning-out radishes, compost queen Nancy has been nurturing the stores of compost that have made such a difference to the soil in our raised beds and garden club leader Alison has been doing lots (and lots) of watering. No matter what time you come by, there’s something to do – a neighbour popping in at the end of the session set to with some weeding.

It’s a lovely way to spend a sunny Saturday or take a break during the week, it’s full of food and flower discoveries, it helps maintain this beautiful urban green space and, we agreed this Saturday, it’s great exercise.

If you’d like to join us for some community gardening, our free, drop-in gardening sessions are on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Unlike an allotment, we garden and harvest together. Stay for the whole session, pop in for an hour, ask us about the garden or just come and enjoy the peaceful urban green space.