As part of our aim is to build a stronger community by working together on projects that will benefit local people, improve the local environment and strengthen community ties, we are keen to help Highbury Hall, as we consider it to be a valuable resource within the town. Whilst we were working together with yourselves on the recent ' Clean Up' we realised that there was potential for a project that could help the hall itself and the playgroup which uses the hall, and advance the Transition Town group’s aims.
With your agreement, we would like to use the areas of garden around the hall to create a 'Community Garden'. The garden would serve several purposes:-
i)Improve the external appearance of the hall, making it look tidy, clean, and attractive to potential hirers.
ii)Provide an educational opportunity for the children at the playgroup. We have discussed our ideas with Marie Ball, and she is keen to involve the children in planting and tending plants, encouraging their interest in nature and the link from plant to food. We would also like to encourage their interest in nature with bird feeders etc, utilising the food scraps from the childrens lunches, thereby cutting down on waste.
iii)Provide a visible presence in the town centre for Transition Town Tenterden. With your permission we would like to put our poster and contact details etc in the Notice Board, and use the garden as part of our publicity to recruit more volunteers.
iv)Provide a potential source of income for our group by the sale of produce, if we are able to grow a large enough quantity.
v)Utilise a currently unused resource in the town for a purpose that has multiple benefits as summarized above
The maintenance of the garden would be undertaken by our volunteers, in conjunction with Ms Ball and her team. We would provide the equipment, plants etc, ourselves, by way of donations, etc, from supporters of the project. As the playgroup will be closed for the summer, we anticipate that planting will not take place until September. We will keep the area tidy until then, using the time to obtain plants and other equipment.
The following pictures provide examples of areas around the Hall that would be improved by planting flowering plants and/or vegetables.
This area between the oil tank and the windows could be improved by planting shade plants, and the concrete area at the rear would be an ideal location for raised beds, planters or potted plants.
The long narrow strip of land along the inside of the fence could be planted with spring bulbs and later, hollyhocks or sunflowers. The planting is an activity that could involve the preschool children.
This bed adjacent to the rear wall is very rich soil, having had plenty of fallen leaves decompose on it for a long time. It is therefore and ideal location for a vegetable patch, and again this is an area where children could learn about growing vegetables (such as pumpkins, radishes, carrots). It is also a nice place to put a bird and/or butterfly feeder.
The much-underused Highbury Hall sign could contain information about the Hall's history and purpose, information about the garden, its caretakers and the involvement of the preschool, as well as advertising events taking place at the Hall and contact information for potential hirers.
Not only will these measures improve the look of the Hall as a whole, but the education of young children and the aesthetics of Highbury Lane itself. There exists a lot of foot traffic on this lane with people going to the car park and Tesco beyond. Tesco themselves will benefit from these improvements to what is essentially their entrance from the High Street.