There may not be a ‘appley’ ever after for this much-loved community garden, and that’s something we should all be concerned about.
Saturday, 24th September saw The BIG Garden invite fans of all things appley to come and enjoy the glorious sunshine in this vibrant and fruitful space, sample some apple treats and have a whole lot of fun.
Bean and I pitched up after lunch and had a wonderful afternoon helping to create fresh-squeezed apple juice so full of flavour and goodness it will blow your socks off, sampling numerous locally-grown apple varieties - our favourite being the Chelmsford Wonder, more tart than sweet (a bit like me!) - apple bobbing,
meeting the volunteers and tasting their home-made apple scones, tarts and cakes,
and creating masterpieces using poster paint and various plants and fruits from the garden as block stamps, in the manner of potato printing (but much more fragrant!).
The BIG Garden was established almost 10 years ago, and has been carefully cultivated over the years, using sustainable methods, by volunteers and two part time community gardeners. It has an orchard area, large vegetable garden, and areas developed especially to encourage wildlife. Volunteers wax lyrical about the benefits they feel the Garden has brought them - fresh air, fitness, friendship, a sense of community and purpose, not to mention a share of the organic fruits and vegetables they help to grow and harvest.
Funded originally by North Essex Public Health, the Garden was used as a therapeutic tool for patients with mental health issues. When that funding was cut Colchester Borough Council stepped in, and provided some cash from the New Homes Bonus. That money was guaranteed only until March next year, and today the council have announced that they will provide only a further six months' funding from its Community Enabling Fund. Read the press release here: http://www.colchester.gov.uk/a... After September 2017 then the Garden will have to secure further funding from other sources if this beautiful and functional green space is to be maintained.
It would take just a few months for all the hard work that has gone into the Garden to disappear under a tangle of weeds, and that would be a huge pity for the staff, the volunteers, the visitors to its regular events - our whole town. So, come on, Colchester, let's rally. Are there any health organisations out there who could use the Garden for their clients? Any schools, Brownies or Cubs divisions who can see the potential of time in the Garden in exchange for a donation? Any businesses who would like to make links with such a worthwhile and fruitful endeavour? Please contact the council (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any offers of help or get in touch with us (email@example.com) if you'd like to spitball ideas. We'd be more than happy to help.
Until next time!
Jade and Bean
P.S. At the Garden we met the lovely Emma from the Tendring Fruit company, selling their gorgeous range of apple juices. Watch this space for a cheeky Local Business Heroes profile of that company in the next couple of days!