It was my first visit to the Newhaven Growing Together community garden which was set up in 2010 with support from NCDA and a grant from the Lottery Funding. It’s in a beautiful location, right at the top of Newhaven, on an unmade track east of the Rushey Hill caravan park, though best accessed on foot and by car, from Hill Top Way past Seahaven Academy.

It’s a spacious site with sea views and countryside fields beyond. The growing areas include wood and brick built raised beds, some still under construction, which can be adopted by members of the community for growing vegetables and flowers.  Other plots are communal, with the work and bounty shared by all. There are established areas of culinary and medicinal herbs, a bright and busy junior bed where children can dig and scatter seeds, areas of fruit trees, and pots of colourful bedding plants all around.

Leanne is keen to point out though, that you really don’t have to be a keen gardener to visit. Everyone who wants to enjoy a tranquil beautiful space is welcome to come here. Children run happily round the garden and climb up into the tree-house, when they are not helping with planting and watering. The willow circle is a beautiful space for meetings, or to just sit, chat and relax. If you want to help, there is a list of suggested chores on the board, and some friendly volunteers to show you what to do.

There are home comforts too, a lovely cosy Pavilion where you can sit with a cup of tea and peruse the gardening books, a tool shed and even a composting toilet if you are caught short!

At the back is a large cooking area, with a big barbeque and stunning mosaic topped pizza oven, fantastic for outdoor events. There is even space to camp out here, under the stars. Past activities in the garden include yin yoga, Pottery bowl making, bird watching on International Dawn Chorus day, and popular celebrations for the Summer Solstice and a bonfire night.

The team have big plans and have a lot to do if they are to succeed in the 2019 “In Bloom” competition. The pond is overgrown and urgently needs renovating, and the fences round it need fixing. Planting beds are in progress, and more are needed, along with some decent topsoil to improve the thick clay earth. The donated greenhouse has fallen down so a new sturdier one would increase the range of plants that could be grown.  Some solar lights would also be great for evening events. If feeling ambitious, the biggest thing on Leanne’s wish list would be the adjoining plot of land which recently failed to sell at auction! Currently thick with brambles and weeds, it could make a wonderful community orchard.

Above all it’s a relaxed atmosphere, with everyone enjoying the garden, even a friendly resident cat to show you around.

Do check out the volunteer days if you can help out, or come along to the up and coming events. If you happen to be passing by one sunny day, do pop in and have a look (but don’t forget to do some watering while you are there!). Many thanks to Leanne and the other volunteers!

More information on the website and facebook page.

The next two events are the Summer Solstice on Saturday June 22nd from 4pm and Bonfire celebration Saturday 2nd November from 3pm. Do come along if you can.

Judy pepper