Over and out for garden scheme
By Lyndsay Oxley - Reporter
AN award-winning guerrilla gardening project in Barnard Castle has come to an end due to a lack of volunteers coming forward to help.
Veg Out in Barney was started in the town in March 2013 and was initially funded by the Rotary Club of Barnard Castle.
The launch of the scheme saw those involved plant fruit and veg in pots, troughs and borders around the town. People were then invited to pick the produce for free.
Dr Ann Barmby and her husband Tony have worked alongside volunteer Graham Moore to keep the project growing during the past seven years with the help of £70,000 in grant money.
However, a lack of hands-on help to maintain the veg out garden at The Hub, in Shaw Bank, has meant that the project can no longer continue.
Founder Dr Barmby, 74, said: “The idea was started to increase people’s awareness of Rotary in the town.
“We were going to put two or three boxes in the town and started planting vegetables and herbs.
“Then the idea came about for a piece of land at the back of The Hub where we could create a ‘farm’.”
The opening of The People’s Garden at the TCR Hub was a huge milestone.
A special tea party was held at the site to mark the official opening in May 2017.
With the aim of getting people to have a go at growing their own produce, the garden featured a polytunnel, a summerhouse, sheds and areas to grow vegetables and flowers.
The area also included dementia-friendly plots for those living with Alzheimer’s.
Housing developer Taylor Wimpey prepared the land free of charge and drainage work was organised by Morgan Sindall and completed by W Marley Landscape Contractors at no cost. A shed and wooden sleepers were among other items also donated to the project.
Grant money was also used to buy gardening tools and equipment to enable volunteers to keep the garden in shape as well as paying for professionals to come in to the garden and share their knowledge with its users. Sessions with artist Holly Brown proved to be popular.
Dr Barmby said: “There has been all sorts of things going on down there. My whole deal is about educating people and children.
“The project has achieved something that is remarkable in that hundreds of people have benefited and learned from it and enjoyed it.
“We have had an enormous amount of praise from people.
“All the money we have had over the years has been spent. A lot of it went to pay for workers to run courses and sessions and then we bought the summerhouse and did the garden up. Everything was purchased for the benefit of the community.”
The project has been recognised for its work a number of times with awards including those from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Dr Barmby said: “I thought we would have been able to inspire the local population to get involved.
“The organisations have been amazing. It is the volunteers which we couldn’t get and that is why we have folded. It is such a shame.”
The garden has now been officially handed over to The Hub which has taken responsibility for it and has agreed to continue its legacy.
Mr Moore, who is also the Hub’s volunteer groundsman, will continue to maintain the garden.
Dr Barmby said: “Graham is phenomenal. There is no other word to describe him. He has always been there. He loves the garden and spends a lot of his time there.”
The couple thanked everyone who had supported the project during its time and hope that the garden will continue for the benefit of the community.
Dr Barmby said: “I feel a sigh of relief accompanied by some sadness. I have good memories of it when I think of what it has done and what people have learned from it. I hope they retain that knowledge. People need to be self-sufficient and know how to plant and grow things.”
Mr Barmby added: “At its best it was fabulous. We are very proud of it.”
Anyone interesting in maintaining the project’s raised beds in the town is encouraged to do so.