The Old Green

Two people sitting on a bench in a garden

In the summer of 2021 Enjoolata awarded funding to a small group of residents on Stanmer road on the outskirts of Brighton who had got together to transform a piece of scrub land known as The Old Green into a natural and educational resource for the local community.

The group were set on regenerating the land using the permaculture approach of working with nature and not against it. They planned to grow herbs, wildflowers and vegetables and to provide educational activities to members of the local community.

Now entering its second year the garden has evidently become an important asset for the community, especially during the pandemic when social isolation was at an all-time high. It is being used by all age groups and particularly by mothers and their children. It has been used for Christmas carol concerts and Halloween gatherings and the residents have future plans to hold all sorts of workshops in the area.

Fig, apple, and pear trees have been planted along the length of the land. A swathe of wildflowers will soon emerge as the weather gets warmer and the garden seems to give a sense of cohesion to the quite diverse surrounding community with its cross section of inhabitants ranging from students and new young families to the older generation of working-class families who have lived there for years. Many in the estates have no gardens and The Old Green provides a space for all.

Jam is made from the rosehips; the rest are left for the birds as are pieces of bread hung from the branches. A three-bin compost system offers an opportunity for members of the community to recycle their food waste and witness how the garden and wildlife will reap the benefit. In line with their permaculture beliefs, the project uses low impact materials in the garden and the group recycle wherever possible.

One elderly gentleman who had lived in the area for years commented that he had seen dragonflies flying around for the very first time and frogs have been sighted in the small ponds created on the edge of the garden.

Urban green spaces, such as parks, playgrounds, and residential greenery, can improve mental and physical health and improve life expectancy for urban residents. Outreach programmes will ensure that those living in council housing without gardens or in areas of social disadvantage will be given priority access, facilities and learning opportunities.

Funding from Enjoolata will continue to be spent on training priorities for those who might not have opportunities to access green spaces, with the remainder going towards ongoing maintenance.

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