The site of the former Civic Offices has been transformed into Lavender Place Community Gardens. Although the site will eventually be re-developed, Reading Borough Council were keen for it to be used as a temporary ‘meanwhile’ garden and have leased it to Thames Valley Police for a ‘poppycorn’ rent of one flower a year!
Volunteers have built raised beds, planted vegetables, an edible forest garden and installed a water harvesting system. A wide range of local schools and community groups grow organic fruit and vegetables; sharing the work and produce. Over 40 family plots are cultivated by women from The Forgotten British Gurkha which has a drop-in centre in Queens Walk.
The low-carbon garden was designed by RISC's Food4Families project to showcase sustainable food growing and gives practical ideas for tackling the climate emergency.
The site includes a performance space for theatre workshops organised by The Hexagon, a forest garden based on RISC's award-winning roof garden and a herb garden designed by children from Deenway Montessori School.
The vision for Reading 2050 includes many green spaces for people to come together and relax but also productive community allotments. Our garden is an amazing opportunity to lead the way in the centre of Reading and show how gardens are the perfect way to enhance outdoor learning and training, as well as improve health and wellbeing.
Who knows, we might persuade the Council and developers to have a similar garden on top of the new development – the hanging gardens of Reading! Failing that, all the materials can be re-used and the large fruit trees have been planted in containers so they can be transplanted to other community gardens.
The gardens are currently closed due to the coronavirus lockdown. A small group of volunteers are maintaining them, while observing social distancing and other lockdown rules. We are expanding the growing area to produce more fresh vegetables for vulnerable people, as part of the Veg4Reading project. If you'd like to help in the gardens, please email email@example.com.
We would like to thank the ever growing list of people who have made the gardens possible: Reading Borough Council and the Hexagon, Thames Valley Police and Mini Police, Food4Families, Activate Learning Reading College, Bottomline Technologies, Deenway Montessori School, Reading Food Growing Network, The Conservation Volunteers, The Forgotten British Gurkha, and all the volunteers at the drop-in sessions.
* from Piers Plowman, William Langland, c1370-90