Abbey Gardens is an open-access harvest garden in the East London borough of Newham where anyone is welcome to participate in the communal growing of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Unlike the traditional allotment system, no one has their own patch and everyone gardens together at regular gardening sessions led by an experienced gardener. The produce is shared among volunteers and is also available to the local community in return for donations from one of the garden’s two Honesty Stalls. We also hold regular free events, including a Summer Fair and a Harvest Festival.
The Abbey Gardens site is one of only two Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Newham and contains the remains of a 12th-century Cistercian abbey where monks once ran a kitchen garden. In 2006 a group of local residents formed Friends of Abbey Gardens, initially with the aim of rescuing the derelict site from vandalism and neglect. With the commissioning of an arts project entitled “What Will The Harvest Be?”, the plan was made to turn Abbey Gardens into an open-access park and harvest garden. The soil was found to be contaminated, but with time and effort this setback was overcome and a beautiful artist-designed harvest garden was created in 30 long raised beds.
The Friends of Abbey Gardens now want to ensure that Abbey Gardens continues to be used and managed by local people as an open-access site and harvest garden which improves the local environment, helps to build a stronger community, gives people an understanding of locally grown food and serves as a venue for cultural events.The regular gardening sessions and larger events bring together people of all ages and backgrounds, giving them the opportunity to meet their neighbours, enjoy nature and learn many garden-related skills in a great community atmosphere.
As well as gardening, people who join the Friends of Abbey Gardens are also invited to get involved in organisation and planning, outreach work and event management if they wish.
We also take part in events beyond the garden, by giving garden-related workshops or displaying our distinctive, custom-made mobile Honesty Stall.
The Friends of Abbey Gardens has grown into a group of about 60 volunteers, all with a variety of skills, experience and connections to contribute. The diversity of the group reflects the neighbourhood, and we have at least 20 nationalities between us.
We are always happy to welcome visitors and new gardeners, so come along and see us. http://www.abbeygardens.org