Beyond the hustle and bustle of City Road and tucked behind Poet’s Corner public house you can find a patch of reclaimed land, lovingly tended to by the local community. On a cool but sunny spring morning I meet with Catherine and Martin who have helped start Plasnewydd Community Gardens in Roath and to hear their story of how the gardens came to be.
When were the Community Gardens created?
The gardens were started in 2010 through a demand by Roath residents in conjunction with Communities First in Wales and Keep Wales Tidy. Cardiff Council was keen to redevelop the grassy area by Shelley Gardens too so it all came together at the right time.
How can people get involved?
People can get in touch with us via the Roath Residents Action Group or by coming to the Community Gardens on Saturdays 10am – 2pm. You can also email us at roathresidents[at]gmail[dot]com or contact us through our Facebook Page.
How many people currently volunteer in the gardens?
It changes throughout the year but on a good summer’s evening there can be up to 12 of us tending to the fruit, veg and flowers we are growing. We like to get involved with community events like Made in Roath and other art installations which helps people find out about the gardens too. We’ve had children and brownies build bird boxes and bug hotels for the gardens and even a brass band playing here. It’s very lively when the community gets together and we can put on events here. (The Shelley Gardens Food Festival is on the 1st June this year which involves the Community Gardens)
Have you been surprised by the popularity of the gardens?
We’ve been more surprised by the lovely comments we hear from people as they walk past. We think that people were initially a bit apprehensive about walking by but we get lots of people saying hello and complimenting the work here. It certainly has a positive impact. It’s quite funny sometimes as people turn towards us to say something as they walk by but there’s a lamp post in the middle of the pathway so we’ve witnessed more than a few near-misses!
What is your most requested fruit/veg to grow?
Courgettes are very popular but there’s definitely a love for lettuce and squashes too. Strawberries are very popular with the children.
Have you had any award winning produce to boast about?
We came second in the Cardiff in Bloom Community Garden category last year but no huge vegetables to mention yet. Give us time and maybe we will in the future. Fingers crossed!
What can a volunteer expect from the Community Gardens in regard to learning how to grow your own?
We all learn how to grow fruit and vegetables as we go along and everyone who helps in the gardens is welcome to a share of the produce as well. Of course there are the extra benefits of some outdoor exercise and meeting new people too. This is a public space and its just as much about getting to know the people in your neighbourhood as well as growing vegetables.
What do you have planned for the Community Gardens this year?
More varieties of flowers and vegetables are planned for this year but we also hope to create some plant name recipe cards so that people can walk around and discover different types of produce and how to cook with them. We’re looking at having a go at growing hops this year which will be a huge learning curve for us but hopefully fun too.
*If you wish to volunteer at the gardens then please contact Martin or Catherine at roathresidents[at]gmail[dot]com or pop by the gardens on a Saturday between 10am – 2pm and say hello. They are also open on some dry sunny evenings and would love to swop seedlings with the community if you have any spare. The gardens are always looking for new and exciting varieties of produce to grow.
Photos: Nicole Rugman (Flickr)