Disused plot turned into thriving community space

Bishop Latimer female gardenersAn overgrown plot of land behind a church building, has been transformed into a thriving community space.

Bishop Latimer Community Garden was set up by Bishop Latimer United Church, Winson Green, Birmingham, with the help of Birmingham City Council, local schools and the Soho Sure Start Centre in 2009.

According to church related community worker, Adella Pritchard, the garden has now become an integral part of the local area.

‘It not only brings people together,’ she explained. ‘It provides people, many of whom may not have a garden of their own, the opportunity to learn, share and grow produce and flowers, as well as making friends.’

Church members, residents and school children now grow organic food and have created an attractive wildlife-rich space.

men gardening‘Members of the community both young and old experience and learn about nature,’ she continued. ‘We have 23 raised beds all tended by local residents, a pond full of wonderful wildlife ideal for pond-dipping, a polytunnel which is home to the young tomato and pepper plants, a woodland path, a sensory garden and a lawn which provides the space for the playpen enabling children at the pre-school that meets in the church hall to have a location for their outdoor play.’

A big part of the life of the community garden is entering the annual Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ initiative.  The community space is entered as 'Winson Green in Bloom' because some of the local streets are assessed for their environmental impact in the communit,  as well as the community garden. Local residents, and some of the gardeners, support the entry by putting up hanging baskets, supplied free by the garden project, on the front of their homes. The project fundraises for this, but the costs are also kept down because local prisoners grow plants for the hanging baskets.

‘We were given the contact details for a prison officer who wanted to do some work in our garden as part of his gardening programme,’ Adella added. ‘He said he would grow plants for Bishop Latimer which was absolutely fantastic. We never seen the prisoners which is a real shame because we are indebted to them for what they have done for us.’

A film – by the Revd Kevin Synman West Midlands Synod Enabler – has been created that captures the community spirit of the garden in action.

The garden is run by a committee which, in partnership with Adella, plans year-round activities for people to enjoy, and earlier this year, a dedicated quiet space was created for visitors to hold a time of reflection. 

‘When most people visit the garden for the first time they are amazed to find this green space situated in the middle of houses and near a main road,’ Adella commented. ‘They say the garden is an oasis of calm amongst the challenge of Winson Green inner-city life’.

For more information on the Bishop Latimer Community Garden, visit its Facebook page.