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London’s Pocket Parks: Abbey Gardens, E15

Next to the DLR in east London is a large community garden that sits on a partially excavated ancient monument.

This is Abbey Gardens, which you will not be surprised to learn takes its name, as does the wider area, from the Stratford Langthorne Abbey. The abbey, one of the richest in England, was closed down by King Henry VIII in 1538, and the buildings were sold off for their stone. The land wasn’t heavily developed until the 1800s though as London expanded and the area became industrialised.

The Abbey was by now little more than a few small walls and a moat, and as factories needed people to work in them, new roads and houses were built, including where this pocket park now stands. The road, once with houses on both sides, now only has a small block of Railway Cottages on the south, and on the north, about half the road has been given over to the pocket park.

OS map 1867

OS map 1893

OS map 1914

The park is relatively new, as it was an urban wasteland until 2008, when two artists, Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie, secured funds to create a community garden — think of it as a very large shared allotment.

A shed at one end, decorated with an old photo, and a cafe (closed) at the other, but between them, running along most of the far wall, are vegetable plots and compost areas. On the back wall, almost covered over now, is the park’s original name, “What will the harvest be?” although it’s now known as Abbey Gardens.

However, sitting by the fence is a deep depression and you can see some bits of old wall in there, and my initial thought was that this was the remains of maybe

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South Berkeley residents kick off 63rd Street community garden

The 63rd Street community garden’s kick-off took place Saturday afternoon at the 63rd Street mini-park, a small playground with slides and swings. The garden, enclosed by four fences and surrounded by homes, is filled with wooden planters to hold soil and plants.

When campus graduate student instructor Albie Miles from the department of environmental science, policy and management first started the food garden project about 10 years ago, they had a goal of providing each of the 25 community members with two servings per day to supplement groceries.

The project lasted for a year or two, until its space fell into disuse. The project kickoff signifies the continuation of its purpose as a food garden. Yet this time, it is run by neighbors, according to Berkeley resident Andrew Yeung.

Yeung, a campus alumnus who graduated in 2011, said the idea of restarting the space was inspired by mutual aid organizations that emerged from the pandemic.

“One of my early ideas was I want to see more green space,” Yeung said. “I want to see green space used to produce food.”

Yeung noted that few grocery stores are centered around South Berkeley. Behind the lack of food lies historical explanations and class disparities, he added.

The idea of restarting use of the space started among the neighbors between 2020 and 2021. The idea gained traction with the city, leading residents to reinstall fences around the space, clean out trash and remove grass.

At the community garden, some wood planters are already in use. Matt Woll, a neighbor from the garden’s nearby homes, shoveled soil into one planter as he explained its design.

The planter holds three long cylindrical nets, each filled with compressed plastic bottles connected with water pipes. Woll calls them cisterns — structures that provide plants with

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Rose Creek Native Plant Garden a hidden treasure in Pacific Beach

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Rose Creek Native Plant Garden is a hidden treasure in Pacific Beach, which is judiciously maintained and supported by its custodian, the nonprofit Friends of Rose Creek.

Friends accomplish this task, in part, through hosting work parties on the second Saturday of every month. The next garden work party will be Saturday, Nov. 11 from 9-11 a.m.

PB social activist and environmentalist, Karin Zirk, founder/executive director of Friends of Rose Creek, conducted a tour of the native plant garden recently. She discussed the origin of the garden, its purpose, and the joys – and challenges – of keeping it properly tended.

Zirk explained that the original linear community garden near Rose Creek Cottage was begun and run in the ’90s by The Nature School, a group that did educational programming for children. She related an interesting tale about how she “inherited” stewardship of the PB community garden.

Zirk said the head of The Nature School contacted her unexpectedly and said, “We’ve been taking care of the creek for the last 15 years, but I’m retiring and moving. Why don’t you take the creek over?”

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Karin Zirk of Friends
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A community garden is coming to an eastside city park

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City staff have approved a community garden application for Ed Taylor Park, the first since policies were updated for gardens in city parks.

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The Ed Taylor Park Community Collective was granted a one-year term, renewable possibly for a three-year term. It’s in the neighbourhood below the 10th Street East extension, which passes to the south of the park. Its address is 1120 12th Ave. E.

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The garden will cover 345 square metres, now a grassy area where a ball diamond once was, with the opportunity to expand by up to 457 square metres more. It’s in the northeast quadrant of the park.

Simona Freibergova shepherded the application through the city’s requirements on behalf of a few residents who live near the park. She said the city process was so long and involved that she said she doubted residents could do it alone.

She founded The Sustainability Project Inc., a non-profit, to support community gardens in Grey-Bruce, she said. This is the third community garden she’s started in four years. She was approached by residents for help, she said.

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Six people belong to the Ed Taylor Park Community Collective and are responsible for the garden operations, in keeping with an agreement expected to be signed with the city Oct. 12.

Freibergova said berries will be planted along the north and west

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City of Pembroke tells charity to dismantle community garden

The City of Pembroke ordered a local charity to dismantle its small community garden of six planters, with some councillors citing concerns about loitering and the charity’s lease agreement.

The raised planters brimming with vegetables sat on a small platform by the parking lot outside The Grind in downtown Pembroke, Ont., until last Friday when volunteers and staff shipped them away at the direction of the city.

“It was a hard, hard day — and a hard week leading up to that,” said Jerry Novack, executive director of The Grind, a volunteer organization and charity that provides services ranging from homelessness support to a lunch program for low-income clients.

“It is disappointing, and you know, we are trying to really help the most vulnerable people in our community.”

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Volunteers and clients, such as those pictured here, spearheaded the effort to bring the planters to The Grind. (Submitted)

Novack said volunteers at The Grind spearheaded a partnership with the local Fellowes High School, which built and donated the planters and supplied the plants.

The goal, he said, was to set up the planters in an outdoor smoking area so clients could grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables for use in the community kitchen.

Novack said The Grind worked with the city and health unit throughout its application for an outdoor smoking area.

“There was a space that was leftover where we had initially thought the smoking area would be,” explained Novack. “What our volunteers decided to do was to create a garden in that area.”

Afterward, The Grind filed a site plan control application with the city and a majority of councillors opposed the garden and directed The Grind to remove it.

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