Southsea Greenhouse launches its community garden

GROWING Volunteers Liz Bourne and her daughter Meg Schofield inside the new community garden in Southsea. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (131098-4)
GROWING Volunteers Liz Bourne and her daughter Meg Schofield inside the new community garden in Southsea. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131098-4)
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IT’S a kind of trading post for fruit, vegetables and crafts.

And yesterday the Southsea Greenhouse co-operative threw open the gates of its community garden with great fanfare.

The Southsea Greenhouse team began work on the space near Canoe Lake in January.

Leased from the council, the uncultivated land was a jungle of weeds, and volunteers have been clearing it up, recycling vegetation and preparing the ground for planting.

A kind of city-wide version of TV’s The Good Life, which centred on a couple who grew their own food, the Greenhouse scheme involved local gardeners and charities contributing to a ‘shack’ bursting with produce on Southsea seafront.

They could swap and barter and passers-by could buy the goods.

Set up by Sue Stokes and member Nigel Huggins, the profits are ploughed back into its projects.

On sunny days, manning the ‘shack’ was joyful, said Sue. But they’d also be shivering on the seafront with the wind blowing the pots over.

Thankfully the nearby Pyramids Centre allowed the Greenhouse’s team to set up and demonstrate in the foyer, but now they can be in their own home at the Community Garden. Sue said: ‘The shack on the seafront was a bit like our starter home.

‘It was a pilot for us, somewhere to begin.

‘It wasn’t feasible on the seafront because the footfall was very, very seasonal.

‘To some extent it’s seasonal where we are now, but it’s more sheltered so you get more people coming past, and they can actually see us growing things.’

The day was kicked off by Portsmouth’s culture councillor Lee Hunt.

There was music and entertainment, and even a representative of the Royal Horticultural Society.

‘We had 40 volunteers and craft people, and had lots of people picking up volunteer forms and asking to become members of the co-operative. It was very successful.’

For more information, visit the group online at southseagreenhouse.co.uk.