Group celebrates transformation from waste ground to thriving community garden

A Newtongrange group is celebrating the transformation of a derelict wasteland in the town into a thriving community garden.
​The award-winning project includes the whole community, including local schoolchildren.​The award-winning project includes the whole community, including local schoolchildren.
​The award-winning project includes the whole community, including local schoolchildren.

The site of the former Main Street social club stood vacant for more than 10 years after the building was demolished, up until last February when the Newtongrange Guerilla Gardeners were granted permission to put the abandoned and overgrown land to good use.

It followed a community showcase organised by the Newtongrange Development Trust in 2022 when the gardeners revealed plans for a garden. After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback, and with the support of the trust and local councillor Douglas Bowen, they proceeded with the project.

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Since then volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have been tirelessly transforming the 1150 metre squared area, creating a space which features a 20ft greenhouse, two gazebos, an apple and cherry orchard, a willow den, a pond, a children’s play area, beehives and wildlife homes for bats, hedgehogs and frogs.

It has also hosted a number of successful events such as the King’s Coronation celebrations and a Halloween pumpkin picking party.

The garden is now tended by a team of up to 30 volunteers who grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables which are distributed free of charge to the local community via The Pantry. Any waste is returned to be used to create compost.

This sustainable circular economy is overseen by community garden designer and volunteer co-ordinator, Laura Joyce, whose efforts were recognised last year with a Places for People Community Matters Award.

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The garden was also awarded an RHS School Gardening Award at Level 5 for its engagement with local children.

Volunteer Rebecca McCosh said: “It’s just one year since we first broke ground here and what has been achieved already is astonishing. It’s not just about the physical transformation of the land, but also the transformation of attitudes.

“People have been inspired and empowered by the fact they can make a real difference to their local area and to the environment.”