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In all the years I have known and loved Norwich, I have never once heard of the Grapes Hill Community Garden – and what a sad statement that is. Now over a decade in the making, the garden represents a haven for local gardeners and nature lovers otherwise thwarted by the tarmacked landscape of urban life. This garden has reclaimed some of that tarmac and given it a new lease of life.
Fran Ellington, a local resident, once lived on the corner of what is now the beautiful community garden. But back in 2008, her neighbours weren’t what what they are now - wild flowers, apricot trees and bumblebees. In 2008, it was 600m2 of paving stones, tarmac and weeds, sporadically sprayed with weedkiller by the council – in short, a sad patch of unloved land. Fran decided she would do change that.
Picutred: Fran Ellington
She gathered up local people, raised funds and turned that unhappy patch into a blossoming, fruiting, buzzing garden. Fran is an absolute hero, as far as I’m concerned, as are all the local people that contribute. Whether as a volunteer or as a sponsor, anyone can find a way to keep this garden growing. It really is a place that brings people together, out under the open sky. Standing in this wonderful garden, you almost forget that you are mere metres from a busy main road, so peaceful is the setting.
The design includes wheelchair accessible mini allotments, beautiful oak tree sculptures, edibles that visitors are welcome to pick from – in moderation – and one of our Rhino greenhouses. Regular volunteer sessions run throughout the summer months and all are welcome and Jo Rice, the resident gardener, is always on hand, maintaining the garden, and giving advice to anyone who asks. And even more than that, they support local causes and host free gardening courses for charitable programmes.
Pictured: Jo Rice
I can never have enough good things to say about the Grapes Hill Community Garden and its proprietors. They are endlessly generous, good-hearted people and we are so proud to have contributed to their efforts, with our Rhino. A can-do, in it up to the elbows, dirt under the nails attitude and a whole lot of good humour – that’s all it takes to make good things happen.
Grapes Hill Community Garden is a treasure and I cannot wait to make a return visit!
This coming Saturday (8th June) they are hosting a Summer Fayre with live music, arts and crafts, market stalls and refreshments.
The garden is open every day, so there really is no excuse not to go and discover this absolute gem. Regular volunteer sessions:
Wednesdays 1-3pm and every other Sunday 2-4pm
Search for #grapeshillcommunitygarden on Instagram or go to their website to find out more. http://www.grapeshillcommunitygarden.org/