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


The men on the cabin: the story of the Plaistow Landgrabbers

There’s a picture on our cabin of a row of men. Visitors are often curious to know who they are.

The Plaistow Landgrabbers were unemployed men who occupied a piece of land to grow food. We’ve met two descendants of the councillor who joined the protest, pictured front left. The picture is dated 1906.

We give visitors a potted history of the Plaistow Landgrabbers, whose protest was one of the influences in artists Somewhere’s design of the garden.

Now, thanks to the E7 Now and Then blog, there’s a much more detailed account of this dramatic piece of direct action. Read the first of two articles here. Our thanks to John Walker for the link.

For more on the design of the garden, as project What Will the Harvest Be?, visit Somewhere’s website here.

Abbey Gardens is a community garden where we grow and harvest together. There are three free drop-in gardening sessions a week, on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 4pm-7pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm; tools and gloves are provided. No gardening experience is necessary and new gardeners and behind-the-scenes volunteers are always welcome.

Any Other Business


‘Any Other Business’. The extra bits of a meeting discussed at the end. Unless you’re at Abbey Gardens, when AOB quite often arrives at the beginning, with veteran innovator Charlie, in the form of an invention or an idea that he will explain at the end. Or in the middle, if there are any hesitations long enough.

This thing of upcycled marvellousness is a prototype watering device, turning waste plastic and clothing into a way to move water straight to the deepest part of a raised bed, where roots need it. Charlie and Luu are ready to test it. We’ll let you know how they get on.

Mobile Work-Shop designed for Abbey Gardens by students from The Cass wins RIBA NWLSA student award


Students from Undergraduate Studio 3 at The Cass, part of London Metropolitan University, have won a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) North West Society of Architects (NWSLA) student award for their mobile Work-Shop designed for Abbey Gardens.

Undergraduate Studio 3 is a live projects studio which explores new ways of looking at the role of the architect within social projects in the city.

The students learnt how to set up and initiate a community governed public project by studying Abbey Gardens. To immerse themselves in our community of gardeners and build a relationship with us, the students created ‘conversation kits’ – products using the garden as a source of knowledge. The conversations led to the students working with Friends of Abbey Gardens to redefine and redesign a previous structure built by studio 3 students in 2008 which, by 2013 was run down and useless.

The trailer meets the need at the garden for a dual-purpose workshop and product display space. Its first use at Abbey Gardens has been for a tiny top hat workshop at our history-themed Vintage Summer Party.

Learning from the process and community at Abbey Gardens, the students took the trailer to Hayes, where they had been asked by the local authority to initiate community run gardens in the Austin Housing Estate. The students set up events to find key players who would be interested to engage with such a community project. Identifying local partners such as Grow Heathrow and Hillingdon play association the students used their conversation kits again to discuss how a productive landscape can nurture ecological products to sell and educational workshops.

The project will be on show at RIBA in November. Meanwhile, visitors and gardeners can see the trailer on site at Abbey Gardens.

Students: Weon Young Choi, 
Ludovica Cirillo
, Gerald Darling, 
Errol Houston
, Riam Ibrahem
, Hongjae Kim
Fadwa Mezughi
, Haneen Shames
, Mirko Solinas, 
Halil Yorel
, Valerie Ziregbe

Tutors: Torange Khonsari and Sandra Denicke-Polcher

More about the project and The Cass here

More about the NWSLA here

Abbey Gardens trugs meet Jamie’s Ministry of Food Stratford

FOAG trug at Jamie's Ministry of Food Stratford


It was our artichokes that did it… Two years ago, bonding with fellow stallholders in bucketing rain at the Mayor’s Newham Show, Jamie’s Ministry of Food Stratford asked if we’d grown the produce on our stall. Indeed we had – and the very next day we harvested a bowl of artichokes for their cookery demonstrations. The following year they came to our Summer Fair to demonstrate how to make frittata with our ingredients. And this year we’ve been asked if we might send a couple of trugs of produce to their training kitchens for a visit by the man himself, Jamie Oliver. Here he is, with Jamie’s Ministry of Food Stratford people Rosanna (left), Carlos (fourth from left) and crew.

Our trugs were designed for the garden as part of the honesty stall by founder FOAG member Andreas Lang.




Upcycling for the planting season


Even on a very rare day when it’s raining so hard that there’s little we can do but discuss dahlias, study the planting plan and eat a few rock buns, there’s something new to discover. Our veteran innovator Charlie, who designed our greenhouse with its wooden structure made from floorboards, has been giving old flooring a new life as a worktop.

We like a bit of invention at Abbey Gardens – so our Spring Fair, Bright Ideas, Saturday 20 April 2-5pm will be all about science and innovation in the garden. Watch this space for details.

Looking ahead: dates for your diary

Refining ideas and maintaining the paths: at Abbey Gardens, it’s perfectly normal to find innovation and gardening going on in the same space. On a very chilly Saturday we’ve been shovelling bark mulch (very popular: it’s a great way to keep warm…) and seeing Torange’s London Met students’ ideas related to a wider project looking at the border between garden and station. It’s all part of looking ahead – and with events and meetings lined-up, some dates for your diary:

November meeting: Saturday 3 November at 2pm
Our monthly meeting at 2pm, open to all who are interested in the progress and running of the garden.

Abbey Gardens Winter Chill: our FREE Winter celebration for all ages: Saturday 24 November 4pm-6pm
Warming winter drinks, seasonal songs, festive cakes and wrapping paper and candle-making workshops – watch this space for details!

December meeting and EGM: Saturday 1 December at 2pm
December’s monthly meeting is also an EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) to vote on the Charity Commission’s amended paragraph for our constitution.


Abbey Gardens crowned most inspiring community food garden in Capital Growth’s Grow for Gold competition

Abbey Gardens has been crowned most inspiring community food garden beating competition from a 1900+ strong network of similar spaces across London.

The Grow for Gold competition, run by the Capital Growth network during 2012, has announced the winners of five different categories celebrating the breadth of community food growing spaces across London.  Grow for Gold judge, Fred Foot, from Bulldog Tools, said, ‘We were blown away by the quality of the entries. It was really hard to choose the winners, when all the spaces and the groups behind them have made such an impact. It was like splitting hairs to choose, but that’s what we had to do.’

Paola Guzman, from Capital Growth, said of the competition, ’Over the last four years of running Capital Growth, there have been so many great stories behind the thousands of new community food gardens that have been set up. This competition was our way of congratulating those groups who have made a real difference, be it with the people they have brought together, the difference they’ve made to their local environment, or the amount they have grown.’

After visiting Abbey Gardens, the judges commented: “It’s a beautiful space full of great people, with interesting stories. We all felt inspired when we left.” They added that “the creative input was so important, as was having a beautiful design”. (The garden was designed by artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie of Somewhere, as the project What Will The Harvest Be?) They also liked the “events that reach out to the wider community, the open access, and that everyone can get involved”. The honesty stall (by founding FOAG member Andreas Lang of Public Works) and use of social media were also praised.

The Grow for Gold winners are:

  • Bee Friendly garden – Fairlie Grow, Tower Hamlets
  • Learning food garden – Chisenhale Primary School, Tower Hamlets
  • People’s food garden – Crystal Palace Transition Town, Lambeth
  • Inspiring food garden – Abbey Gardens, Newham
  • Enterprise food garden – Lambeth Poly, Lambeth
Capital Growth, which  runs the network of community food gardens, is offering grants to new spaces.
Pictures © Nina Pope, Jen Currier and Lydia Thornley


What Will The Harvest Be? at Abbey Gardens had the pleasure to be part of this years 13th Venice Architecture Biennial. The Hands on Urbanism exhibition curated By Elke Krasny which was originally shown in Vienna, a reduced version of the show made it to Venice where it can be seen over the next three month in the International Pavilion in the Giardini.

Hands on Urbanism shared a space with some old friends from Paris. AAA (Studio for Self Managed Architecture) came to visit Abbey Gardens very early on to show their ECHO BOX film about the development of a community garden in Paris. It was one of the first events before we had access to the site.

Torange enjoying a moment of Abbey Gardens glory in Venice

Mass seed growing Saturday


Following the completion of our new recycled greenhouse, kindly donated and modified by Charlie Seber we need to start to use it, so this Saturday (March 24th) we will be doing a mass seed sowing, things that urgently need sowing are tomatoes, celeriac, celery, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, chillis, aubergines, many ornamental plants, and much more.

It is also potato planting time again, which we will be doing around midday. We also have Kale, Chard, and some salad crops that need to be picked before we remove them to prepare for this years plantings.
Hopefully see you there,

Hamish (Garden Club Leader)

somewhere presenting Abbey Gardens at the RCA

Nina and Karen from somewhere presented What Will the Harvest be? at the Sustain Talks held at the Royal College of Art in November 2010. You can now watch it on the RCA website.

Click here to view the video of the presentation

Here is a little info on the Sustain Talks series:

Sustainable art and design at the Royal College of Art
Sustain is a showcase for the work, issues and arguments that relate to the ever-more-complex arena of sustainability within the Royal College of Art. The RCA offers a unique forum: we can open up and explore issues without the pressure solely to present solutions; and we bring the ‘systems’-thinking creativity of cross-disciplinary discussion to the presentation and discussion of sustainable practice in art and design disciplines.

Sustainability represents a key emerging institutional need across the creative and cultural industries. Our goal at the RCA is to inspire and challenge a new creative generation across the UK to embrace and address sustainability in their work, demonstrating how principles of sustainability and responsibility can fuel innovation, and support and enhance real-world strategies for change.