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.


In the garden:

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

Apple Tree

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!)

Once upon an apple tree …

It started with a simple conversation with Charlie about Milk Floats and ended with an excursion to Dany’s reclaimed timber Yard on the A12, a hot cup of tea and memories of the beginnings. Four years ago during a hot summer Dany and his team build the raised beds at Abbey Gardens. Not known to myself, Dany also introduced Charlie to the garden shortly after it opened. On our quest to Milk Float knowledge we ended up reminiscing about the olden times, fond memories of the hard working French brothers and … the apple tree which once stood in the garden and had to be cut down. I was quite protective of the little apple tree and hoped we could keep it. Common sense prevailed and we replaced it with a new tree in clean soil. I wasn’t aware that at the time Nina asked Dany to hang on to the root of the old tree for ‘some kind of art project’. And so it came to be that on an autumn afternoon I was reunited with the old tree stump. On the same trip charlie took me to a forgotten garden, across the road from Danies yard which once belonged to a school. We foraged a bag full of delicious apples many of which ended up in our honesty stall on Bakers Row. This morning they were all gone – hopefully nicely shared between the increasing number of passers by.

The remains of the Old Apple Tree

Charlie foraging in a forgotten garden

Garden Club Sessions, Apple Tasting and Strategic Conversations

The cold winter is behind us and it is with great pleasure that we can confirm that the Gardening Club will restart on Saturdays from this Saturday 5 th March from 10am to 3pm.

Hamish Liddle, our Garden Club Leader, will be running the sessions this year again.

The Gardening Club sessions will be held on Saturdays only for the time being, but we are hoping to restart sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays as soon as possible. We will let you know when funding is secured.

Please join us for this great new gardening season!

Also – This Saturday, as previously announced, there will be a focus group with postgraduate student Poppy Nichol on Apple quality and access taking place in the cabin at 12pm. Everyone is welcome.

Last but not least, Saturday the 5th of March will will be our monthly meeting. It will start at 1PM in the Cabin to allow time for our an in depth ‘Strategy’ discussion. The meeting will focus on the objectives of the Friend’s Group, how do we see it and the garden evolve in the short, medium, long term, what do we need to get there, how much more/ less are we hoping/willing to contribute to the garden.

See you all on Saturday


Karen introducing the tree planting session
Karen Guthrie introducing the tree planting session at Abbey Gardens. You can see more pictures of the event on the Abbey Gardens Flickr page


Sat Feb. 6th, 10.30am – 3.30pm

Friends of Abbey Gardens and artists Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope invite you to join them for their first gardening event of 2010 – the planting of 30 young fruit trees at Abbey Gardens in Bakers Row.

photo:Nina Pope

Abbey Gardens, Bakers Row, London E15 3NF
Volunteers are advised to bring lunch and to wear stout shoes and warm clothes including gloves. Tools are provided. New participants for 2010 are always welcome

What Will The Harvest Be? is a garden where anyone may learn about, grow and harvest organic vegetables, fruit and flowers. You can give as much or as little time and energy as you can spare or just come and visit. There are plenty of events. Abbey Gardens surround part of the ruins of a 12th
Century Cistercian abbey.

Started by local residents who formed Friends of Abbey Gardens, the project What Will The Harvest Be? was devised by artists Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope of Somewhere.org.uk

Open to visitors every day from dawn to dusk.
See websites for details of gardening sessions.


Remidiation is under way


Remidiation of the site nears completion. The the site has been covered with a membrane that stops any of the pollutants coming up through the ground. On top of the membrane a 20cm thick layer of ‘super clean’ top soil has been added. Once the layer of new soil is levelled, 30cm deep raised beds will be constructed increasing the depth of clean topsoil to 50cm which will be plenty for growing food safely.

Work is well under way and construction of the raised beds will start this Wednesday (10th of June 2009). Volunteers to help construct the raised beds are very welcome and should contact Chris on 07723733056 or email chris@whatwilltheharvestbe.com

Setting out the harvest garden


Tim marking out the raised beds.

Lots of worms in the earth under the apple tree Untangling the string in the rain Louise fixing the string to the pegs p1030772.jpg

Despite the rain early on we made some good progress setting out the layout for the harvest garden on site. First with bright yellow string and then spraying the outlines in white.
We did not quite finish but most of it is done. It already raised many questions on how the raised beds should or could be designed to accommodate the gentle contours of the ground.

more photos on the abbey gardens flickr page which are worth checking out.


Louise, Karen, Tim and Lydia setting out raised beds and the walkway in between them.

Ali and his special gardening shoes Louis marking out the beds break time - and discussing the smallest raised bed in the world Ali Parvin and Azadeh feeding the apple tree Nina with string coming out of her head

JONAGORED Apples (United States Patent PP05937)


Nina got the result back from Bogdale Farm, determining the kind of apple we have growing in the garden:

“The sample is a dark red form of JONAGOLD and probably the form known as
JONAGORED. This is a modern apple and the tree would have been planted
comparatively recently. It is a vigorous variety, usually crops well and would have
become weeping under the weight of crops.”

Its worth while reading the Wikipedia entry on the Jonagoled


“The Jonagored Apple, a sport mutation of Jonagold, was once covered under United States Patent PP05937, now expired.”

Help yourself (box) to an apple a day …

The box on the fence filled with apples

The apple tree has so many apples – more then people seem to harvest. I assume this is partly due to the fact that the site is not easily accessible and that not everyone has a ladder. Its a real pity to see them being wasted.

Abandoned crate on Bakers Row reclaimed wood from crate

In the spirit of the harvest garden proposal which promotes recycling and an honesty box for excess produce. A couple of hours on a very sunny Sunday afternoon were enough to take an old abandoned crate apart and build a small box that sits on the fence. Its all rather ad hoc and I am sure the final Honesty Stall will look nothing like it, but it is a good way of testing the idea and have a temporary solution which – should it be destroyed is not a great loss.

Harvest in full swing

Once the box was up Ismael, Hassan, Salomon and Ava helped to harvest the apples and fill the box. They also suggested we should grow other fruits like, mangoes, peaches and carrots. Placing the box on the boundary was quite helpful as it was accessible from both sites which made it easy to fill. It did feel a bit strange to ask for a donation in return for an apple since the tree has been on site growing apples for so long. All we did was to put it into the box. Guess it is more a ‘Help yourself box’ then an ‘Honesty Stall’

First customers

It did not take long before we had the first customers and by the following morning most of the apples had gone. There is probably one more box full on the tree which will be harvested before too long. I kept checking on the box every now and then and it was always a delight to see someone take an apple on their way. I assume once the station is in place and the footfall in Bakers Row is increasing produce will be flying off the shelf (box).

The Crab Apple tree that wasn’t a Crab Apple tree after all

Apples on the apple tree

For a long time we all assumed that the apple tree is a crab apple tree. Its the first year we can actually access it and harvest the fruit. Its full of juicy apples. Apple harvest has been strong over the last weeks.

Nina and Karen found this amazing farm -> Bogdale Farm, which helps to identify the plant species. A “typical fruit specimens and a shoot with representative foliage” is on its way to be identified.

Green Tomatoes and Apples make brown souce

Informal harvesting has been going on the site and delicious apple and green tomato produce have been appearing all around.

Dasha’s apple jelly and apple pie Apple juice - very tasty! Some of the tomatoes turned red Dasha and Laura - Harvest talk Laura’s harvest - cider and brown sauce Emma in the tree Ava’s harvest and learning about worms Dasha and Laura in the midst of things