A community garden is being established on a small piece of spare land in the Old Courthouse Recreation Grounds with the aim of creating a meeting point for local people and encouraging a wider interest in gardening and the growing of fruit and vegetables.
Helena Tabry (left) was joined by a group of volunteers as they began to clear weeds from their corner plot in the grounds of the Old Courthouse Cafe, across the road from Barnet parish church.
Her inspiration for the project has been the success of Barnet’s Incredible Edible campaign to encourage home cultivation which has a well-established community garden outside St John’s United Reform Church in Mowbray Road, New Barnet.
“It is something I have wanted to do for some years,” said Helena, who has been given permission to establish the new community by the proprietors of the Courthouse Cafe.
“It is a small plot, just 5 metres by 4 metres but if we can start growing vegetables and fruit and this proves successful then hopefully, we might be able to extend the garden or find a larger site.
“Obviously there will have to be some trial and error to begin with. If we can grow even a small amount of produce, we will know we could make success of a bigger plot. Our aim is to make a space for local people to meet others and feel more included in society and then hopefully to grow a bit of food as well.”
On hand to give support and encouragement were Heather Green (far right) of Incredible Edible and Dave McCormick of Barnet Friends of the Earth.
Dave said that getting the go ahead for a community garden so close to Barnet town centre was a terrific opportunity, especially to engage with young people and children who use the Old Courthouse Recreation Grounds.
“Projects like this have to start small but it could take off. For example, children could help watering the plants in the summer and that might encourage them to start growing fruit and vegetables at home.”
Robin Bishop (left), who leads for the Barnet Society on planning and the environment, says that Helena and her volunteers were tapping into a growing public interest in community gardens and home cultivation.
When Barnet Council held consultations in 2020 on developing a community plan a consultation process produced 700 responses.
“This was far more than Barnet Council ever expected and what came through was the pressure for improvements like this around the town centre.
“Finding ways to make more use of the Old Courthouse Recreation Grounds was seen as one of the priorities, and a community garden is just the sort of project that could take off.”