A dedicated team of volunteers have created a beautiful communal garden within 10 minutes walk of the city centre in Roath by the Plasnewydd Community Centre. It is an oasis of calm and cheerfulness, with a welcoming spirit.
Sophie and I joined the team on a July Saturday morning to find out about more about the project.
Martin is a painter and decorator living in nearby Bedford Street.
How did the garden begin?
MARTIN: A few years ago, we had a fete in Shelley Gardens. Everyone was asked what they would like to see from Shelley Gardens in the future, and some people asked for somewhere to grow some flowers and food. We took the idea forward, and with the redevelopment of Shelley Gardens we applied for a small corner to begin a community garden. Chloe put together a garden plan for the council, who agreed with the plan. It took about a year to complete the discussions, and then we put in an application to Tidy Towns to help us buy materials to build the raised planters and the additional soil. The parks department gave us some of the fruit trees, and provided help. And we’ve been growing here ever since.
How many people are in the group and how do you decide what goes where?
MARTIN: All decisions are made together, this is the only way a group like this would work. None of us are gardeners; some things work, others don’t, but we are getting there and learning as we go. The group has a small core of regular volunteers, with numerous people coming and offering a hand or some advice throughout the year. Some people just come in to enjoy the garden. They are just as important as the volunteers.
What are the future plans for the garden?
MARTIN: Nothing is set in stone, but the plan is likely to include finishing off the planters and providing information boards. We’re also trying to keep the garden going right through the year, with food produce including winter lettuces. We’ve built cloches to raise seedlings.
Sas has been an active member of Plasnewydd Community garden for the last 18 months.
Which is your favourite part of the garden and why?
SAS: My biggest interest is vegetable growing. I became interested in growing my own food about 3 years ago, when I decided to follow a plant-based vegetarian diet. The ethos includes buying food (mostly plants) locally, eating it as fresh as possible and including whole foods in to your diet. It’s really interesting for me to take plants from the garden that we have grown, and create delicious food in my kitchen at home. I have previously spent six years working in the travel industry around the world, eating in hotels every day, so I love having my own kitchen space!
How did you first get involved in the garden?
SAS: I started shopping at Roath Farmers Market on a Saturday, and there I found out about another community garden in Cardiff. The times didn’t suit, so they directed me here, and I’ve been volunteering here ever since.
Cath has been a volunteer for the Plasnewydd garden since the start.
How did you get involved in gardening?
CATH: I have no idea. I live in a flat in Cardiff when I was young, but started growing plants in pots on the balcony. I volunteer here, but I also have an allotment, so I tend to not take much food from this garden.
What are your favourite flowers?
CATH: Has to be the sweet peas, they smell delicious!
What do you most like to see in the garden?
CATH: People enjoying the garden. We have seats in the pergola, people can feel free to come and sit down, and enjoy the sunshine on a Saturday, or come for a chat. They shouldn’t feel obliged to help, but if they want to lend a hand, the more hands the better.
Sophie and myself had a lovely time in the garden, and felt truly welcomed by the gardeners. As one passer-by succinctly stated, “It’s a glorious oasis in the heart of Cardiff.” The team should be truly proud of the achievements they have made.
Plasnewydd Community Garden is open to anyone to visit. The garden regularly leaves herbs, vegetables and fruit by the gate for passers-by to take away and enjoy. The garden is open Saturdays between 10am – 1 pm and Wednesdays between 5pm – 6.30pm, weather dependent.