Opening dates and times:Sat 7 Sept (10-5)
Admission:Adm £2, chd free
Contact:The Friends of Abbey Gardens
Tube: Stratford, West Ham. DLR Abbey Rd stn at end of garden. Short walk along greenway from Olympic Stadium
click here for a map
Description:This is a unique shared community ‘harvest garden’ instigated by the local Friends of Abbey Gardens, then designed and developed with artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie (see www.somewhere.org.uk). Now up and running for 4yrs, Abbey Gardens host 3 free weekly garden club sessions where volunteers tend all the shared raised beds rather than individual plots
Garden tours, teas, produce and plant sales. Gardens also house the gatehouse ruin of a Cistercian Abbey, one of the few scheduled ancient monuments in this part of London. For more information see www.abbeygardens.org & www.whatwilltheharvestbe.com
Further details:Abbey Gardens - What Will The Harvest Be?
Abbey Gardens is a public space designed by artists Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope of Somewhere.org.uk on behalf of The Friends of Abbey Gardens.
Initiated and led by the Friends group, what was a neglected wasteland has been transformed into a unique open-access Harvest Garden where anyone can grow and harvest flowers, fruit and vegetables. The Gardens surround part of the ruin of a protected C12th Cistercian Abbey where monks ran a productive garden, the site also displays more recent C19th remains.
Devised four years ago by the artists as a horticultural and social experiment, the project invited anyone to participate in the communal growing and harvesting of vegetables and flowers. Over the last three seasons the active Friends group has grown and flourished alongside the garden.
The garden occupies a 2000 sq meter urban site in Newham, East London, protected from development by English Heritage due to its mediaeval monastic and Victorian ruins. The local area - in a state of change and growth - provides an inspiring backdrop, bringing in new transport links, new residents and commuters, and now the 2012 Olympic visitors and competitors. Historically this echoes the hub of travellers, commerce, debate and food production that the Cistercian Abbey would have been and the idea of returning the land to production was very influential on the project.
Later influences such as wartime 'Dig for Victory' allotments and the early 20th century Newham 'squatters', the 'Plaistow Landgrabbers' also inspired the artists' design. This group of unemployed men squatted a nearby piece of empty land to prove that the unemployed did in fact want to work. They called their plot 'The Triangle Camp' and this directly inspired the shape of the raised beds at Abbey Gardens, the slogan painted on the wall behind their camp provided the project name - What Will The Harvest Be?
The contemporary garden design centers on formal raised beds arranged in a flag-like layout. As well as providing a striking structure for the site suited to both experienced and novice growers, the design also cleverly remediated the land allowing food production to commence. The design mixes flowers and produce and is informed by the practical requirements of vegetable-growing. Its scale and style also evokes the Edwardian heyday of the English civic park, as well as honouring the Landgrabbers 'Triangle Camp'. A dense network of paths throughout the beds enables access for gardeners and visitors and the entire site is visible from the adjacent road and DLR train line.
Free garden club sessions take place from March to the end of October three times a week, and the site is open every day for visitors. Rather than people claiming individual plots, the idea is to experiment with treating the garden as one shared resource and to distribute the produce amongst the regular gardeners as well as through an honesty stall on site.
What Will The Harvest Be? is a Somewhere project by Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope initiated by the Friends of Abbey Gardens and commissioned by Newham Council through Modus Operandi. The project has been developed with the support and vision of the Friends of Abbey Gardens (FOAG) and funding from the London Development Agency, Arts Council London, Newham Councillors Local Fund, Community Spaces & The Tudor Trust. The initial stage of the project was supported by the DLR art programme. FOAG and the artists would like to really thank Chiltern Seeds who have provided almost all of the seeds used in the garden