Empty Common Allotments
Assistant team leader Anthony Grief reports on a mammoth Prince’s Trust project – transforming a wilderness into a wheelchair-friendly community garden.
“Team 33’s week six community project was based at Empty Common allotments, Cambridge. Their task was to assist in building a community garden for members of the local community to enjoy; providing a space for relaxation, learning and meeting other likeminded individuals. An important factor to consider during the project was that it had to be wheelchair and environmentally-friendly.
The aims for the week were to construct compost heaps using reclaimed wooden pallets; construct raised beds using reclaimed scaffolding boards and wood from a disused playground swing; clear shrubbery, brambles and grass from the site; lay down wood chip and plant trees
This was a large task but everyone was happy with the project and felt confident they could achieve their goals within the time limit. On the first day the team was divided into three groups. Group One started to clear the site of unwanted scrub and brambles, Group Two took measurements of the raised beds and cut the scaffolding boards to size and Group Three stained the wood.
Staining was a very messy job but the team got stuck into their role and made short work of it. Shame about the rain later on in the day which washed most of the stain off!
Day two started much the same as the previous day; cutting wood, chopping and staining. This time though we had come prepared for the weather and bought a gazebo to store the treated wood. As luck would have it there was no rain but the weather continued to thwart us, sending gusts of wind our way which threatened to break the gazebo.
The team was relieved to return to the site on the third day with the gazebo still intact and the wood dry! One group concentrated on starting to erect the raised beds while another group continued clearing brambles from the site.
It took us some time to figure out how to build the beds so only managed to erect one out of six on the day. The other team did a great job in clearing the rest of the grounds, making the compost heaps, laying down wood chip and disturbing the resident mouse.
It was all hands on deck for day four as we still needed to build the remaining five beds and the weather wasn’t much help, delivering the odd hail storm or two. The river bank was also cleared and wood chip laid down. Various fruit and evergreen trees were planted and a lot of weeding was done!
Day five saw the team add the final touches to the raised beds, fitting the lining and enjoying well-earned pizza and muffins from the community garden members.
Overall the team thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the community was very pleased with the professional quality of the work we had done. At times it was touch and go whether everything would be completed on time due to the weather conditions but everyone persevered and remained motivated and confident about achieving their goals.”