Community growing for community healing

Interviewing The Hanging Gardens about their Grow Wild community project.

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planted pots outside a chapel front

We spoke to Luc and Samantha from The Hanging Gardens, Llanidloes about how they transformed their outdoor community area. Here they tell us how growing an apothecary bed and a potted woodland garden has created a welcoming and inclusive space in the community.

The Hanging Gardens is a project in the centre of Llanidloes, turning converted chapel buildings into a thriving community hub. Part of an ongoing restoration project with The Wilderness Trust, the project supports people in the local community through activities that build resilience and facilitates upskilling through activities, including a community garden where people can grow food.

We wanted to bring work that The Wilderness Trust do around biodiversity, rewilding, and tree planting into our Hanging Gardens project. The garden has micro allotments which the community use, but there was a lot of derelict space that we wanted to transform. We were looking to build on the fact it’s a community space and edible garden, creating a bed with UK native herbal and medicinal plants. Anyone that contributes to the space by volunteering can access the vegetables and herbs grown.

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wild strawberry plant

Grow Wild provided us with UK native wildflower seeds, which we used around the borders of the beds in addition to plug plants of species that are native to this area of Wales. Within the main bed, we built a little wet bed with meadowsweet. The native plants that we have put into the apothecary bed include cowslip, sorrel, chamomile, sneezewort, wild strawberry, and hedge-garlic. To go with this, we have displayed a board with more detail about the plants. 

The native plants that we have put into the apothecary bed include cowslip, sorrel, chamomile, sneezewort, wild strawberry, and hedge-garlic. 

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a person standing on a pile of rubble
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empty raised beds under construction

Before we started the project, the yard was a big pile of rubble and an eyesore. It was really nice to see something positive done with the space and to hear comments about how much it has improved. Going forward we want the yard to be used for workshops. We have a group of young adults with learning disabilities that meet every week for art groups, who have done a lot of work with natural dyes and incorporating plants into their art. We hope they will be able to use the outdoor area of the community garden for their sessions in the warmer months. 

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plants and natural dye print artwork

After building planters in the yard we had scrap wood leftover, so we combined this with another waste management project of ours to build recycling and compost bins. As we continue to develop, we want to try different composting methods and use these within workshops. 

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wooden compost bins

The second area we have focussed on is a potted woodland garden in front of the chapel. We used to receive complaints that the building’s entrance didn’t seem inviting. Since doing it up we've had a lot of comments about how nice it is to have a welcoming space to enter and as we expand, we're hoping to fill every available space with native plants. The area’s hard surfacing was a challenge and ongoing building work meant any plants had to be potted and moveable. The woodland pots contain UK native trees and undergrowth species including wild cherry, dog violet, bluebells, maidenhair fern, sea spleenwort, and ragged robin. Once the building work is done, we will reinstate the area as a permanent space for plants and growing.  

 Since doing it up we've had a lot of comments about how nice it is to have a welcoming space to enter and as we expand, we're hoping to fill every available space with native plants

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planted pots outside a chapel front

The project has been a collaborative effort, sharing ideas to work together. Key participants in the project included two new volunteers with a lot of knowledge about growing and members of our community garden who were knowledgeable about native wildlife, native plants and foraging. It was great to have a solid team of volunteers, who felt supported. We also got new people involved who were interested in gardening, and it was nice to have options for ways they could participate.  

The project has been a collaborative effort, sharing ideas to work together. 

The Grow Wild funding has meant we could transform our spaces, and that's been amazing. What’s been really nice is the focus on biodiversity, as otherwise we might have only had funding to turn the space into vegetable gardens, without the same variety of plants. 

Having a project coordinator was a big kick-starter for other garden projects to follow and we’ve secured funding to add a glasshouse, shed, and hydroponic system. We also have plans to expand the woodland garden and create a wildlife pond. Links with other groups in the community have also come out of the project, such as a gardening club that gathers in the space every month. We hope connections like these will lead to new initiatives that will continue to develop the community. 

The Hanging Gardens

Find out more about The Hanging Gardens, their projects, and what they have planned for the future.

Grow Wild Community Grants

The project carried out by The Hanging Gardens was one of seven projects supported by a Grow Wild Community Grant in 2022. If you're interested in learning more about our Community Programme grants or finding out more about the other groups funded, explore the resources below.  

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