St Luke’s community garden celebrates a successful first year

Published Thursday, 6th December 2018

Volunteer Terry Owens and Tony Wagstaff in Poly Tunnel

A garden designed to bring the community together whilst also offering support, is celebrating a successful first year.

The Cluniac Garden is managed by the community part of the Council’s Early Help Family Support Team and is a free therapeutic garden, where families, children, young people and people living with dementia or mental health problems, can learn about gardening. Members of the community and those who have been referred work side-by-side with council officers and volunteers.

There are 13 family plots, raised beds and manger planters so users of all ages and abilities can use the garden. Seven of these plots and three of the five children’s beds are already being put to good use. There are many therapeutic benefits, including physical exercise, fresh air, and improving people’s social and communication skills.

Tony Wagstaff, officer in the Early Help, Family Support and Youth Offending Team, said: “In one year we’ve taken it from an overgrown, neglected spot of land, to a fully functioning garden. We installed the picnic benches so people could enjoy the quiet and calm, and families can enjoy lunch outside.

“It’s not about the work ethic, it’s about the community aspect. There are health benefits with gardening; its good exercise and there’s something really fulfilling about growing your own food.

“For some people, coming here is the only thing that gets them out of their home. It is about being part of something bigger than just what you do every day.”

The garden, which can be used all year round thanks to an undercover poly-tunnel, is named after the group of monks who set up Priory Park and who ran a small farm to grow their own food.

It is open between from 9.30am on Tuesday and Thursdays and plots are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cllr Helen Boyd, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “The success of the Cluniac Garden shows the need for this type of community project as an innovative way to bring people together.

“The garden gives people a safe space to enjoy the fresh air and exercise that gardening brings, whilst learning more about growing vegetables and plants, passing that knowledge onto their children and meeting others with similar interests.

“I’m proud that the council is able to offer this resource free-of-charge and pleased that with Tony’s help, local people are able to learn more about gardening and reap the benefits it brings.” 

If you want to find out more, contact St Luke’s Hub on 01702 463927 or at 1-3 Cluny Square, or via the St Luke’s Community Hub Facebook page.