Words by Peter Newton, Penarth Town Council.
In 2018, Penarth Town Council was granted funding from the Vale of Glamorgan’s Section 106 Development funds to develop the garden at the front of West House. The garden’s objective was to bring people together from Penarth’s community and provide a green space to grow, learn and enjoy.
The space in front of West House was already accessible to the public, but there was little to draw in people unless they were already visiting West House. Working with the public and the town council’s consultation, we found that the most popular requested features were more areas of seating and improvements to the on-site planting scheme. We began working straight away on making improvements, taking into consideration feedback from the community.
Improvements To Date
“We knew that we wanted the space to work for the community, particularly those closest to the site that would likely use it on a regular basis. We worked with nearby Victoria Primary School to look at designs and layouts. Their Eco and Gardening Club created some fantastic ideas, including the artwork which was used to create the main signage!”
Work began to replace the old vegetable beds with new ones which were bigger, and taller to help those who find it difficult to bend and kneel. We also purchased a vegetable ‘trug’ to help with this too. Keen to entice people into the garden we also added picnic benches to the site for public use, which can also be used when running outdoors sessions with the local primary school.
There is also a greenhouse on site too, where Victoria Primary School have begun cultivating some vegetables such as sweetcorn and courgette. Our grounds staff will look to grow plants for the garden so that in the long term it becomes self-sustaining.
We encourage everyone from the Penarth community to come and take a look this summer and get involved! There are two additional seating areas – the first christened ‘The Cwtch,’ a small area with companion seating under the trees at the front, made possible by a donation from the Town Council’s previous mayor and mayoress Ken Lloyd and Georgia Bennett. The other is our main seating area near the archway.
With the view of ensuring the community garden is maintained and allowed to mature, shrubbery across a large area of the site was cleared and replaced by a variety of plants and flowers. What’s great now is we can see the first summer buds coming through. What’s also great is that this should also help with local biodiversity.
It doesn’t stop there! Plans for the future
Plans are already underway to complete a pathway around the garden so that it is easily accessible to everyone. We’re also keen to increase community usage, particularly with regards to the community vegetable plot. To do this, we are joining in with Social Farms & Gardens’ ‘Have a Grow’ Days and encourage all members of the community to get involved. We are looking to use the site more for community events, as well as look to celebrate the natural heritage of the town via Wales in Bloom.
If you’d like to find out more information on West house’s Community garden, Penarth Town Council and how to get involved, visit their website: https://www.penarthtowncouncil.gov.uk/