I have just been asked for the History of the Healing Gardens and have been searching for some early articles.
I can remember that it was very exciting when we started this project 7 years ago. However, at this point I can’t find the original articles that I wrote back then but here is something later to give you a flavour.
Since 1964 the field has been an organic grazing field and cattle still graze there. The land was purchased and, after waiting for some restrictions to be lifted, the owner wished the local community to use it. A group of people met and planned. Then work began as and when people had time. The first harvest won prizes at the local harvest festival. The official association was formed to enable fundraising to happen. There has been disappointment with fundraising and a little success. As well as starting the vegetable garden an area is fenced and planted with old English varieties of fruit trees in readiness to rescue some battery hens when a chicken house can be afforded. A dig took place in the past to explore its history uncovering then recovering an ancient spring. With help from local people the spring was re-discovered and cleared. It is hoped this clearing can continue and an area to sit and appreciate the surroundings and views be created.
Members know the journey of the 6acre garden began long before they became involved. Members understand that we must respect and care for this amazing site while we use it and that its journey will continue when we are no longer here.
HEALING GARDENS COMMUNITY PROJECT
It began with a seed, which was a passion to empower disconnected individuals to re establish their relationship with nature. Having experienced much solace from that connection herself, and being deeply distressed by seeing what is happening to the planet, Juliet planted the seed, the idea of a community garden, for others to water. Already owning 6 acres of land which was part of the Healing Waters Sanctuary, she offered it to members of the local community, for them to make of it what they could.
She wasn’t disappointed! In 2008 the Healing Gardens Community Project was pushing up its first shoots with the creation of the Association. At first only a few core members, but the objectives and aims were defined, in alignment with everyone’s vision. These were to advance the knowledge and application of organic, ecologically sustainable and environmentally sensitive gardening and small holding practices and production in Glastonbury.’ The Association is open to all, young and old alike. Hopefully to mix the two so that the old can impart their wisdom and enthusiasm to the young, since we are losing our connection to our roots in this planetary downward spiral! We are want also to encourage disadvantaged people so that they can acquire the ability to bring more health and nutrition into their lives.
Soon we had a number of different inspired individuals involved, each with their different skills and ‘take’ on how it should be done. We want to make everyone welcome in the rich tapestry which is Healing Gardens. The gardens are big enough for all and currently there are a number of different projects underway. The first step was to create the garden beds, something which is still in process. We had a beautiful design for interlocking circular beds made by Ben who was fresh from horticultural school. Soon Joe came along and started to implement the design and many followed after him. We are aiming for a no dig, permaculture approach and this is gradually developing. It was so successful that we won prizes in the Glastonbury Harvest Show in 2009 for our beautiful vegetables.
Alongside the vegetable beds, there is a soft fruit patch developing and also an orchard of ancient varieties of fruit has been planted. This has been enclosed so that we can run chickens, rescued from battery farms, to peck the pests from the soil. Outside of this we want to have some bee hives, and so we are anticipating the arrival of a bee enthusiast. We are also developing a childrens. garden and have received £250 from the Blue Peter Mission Nutrition scheme for this. Children adore the gardens and come regularly from various sources. Some are members children, others come with a volunteer. We are also getting young people from BCTV, Wild West Project which is lottery funded. Our Association is in partnership with Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partenership. We made a joint application to ‘Access to Nature’ Funding. As a result of this we were funded to run a cob oven workshop, in November 2009. It was pouring with rain that day, but we still had over 21 youngsters from several local schools participating.
Apart from the growing and husbandry side of things, the gardens will provide peace and tranquillity and wild life habitats. We were recently disappointed not to receive funding from BCTV for a restoration project on the pond. But we will not give up because we are inspired to see it happen anyway. In the centre of the gardens is an ancient spring, whose flow had been stopped following an archaeological dig some years ago. We have since started to clear it and it is beginning to flow again. It was from the spring that we dug the clay for the cob oven. The spring is the centre piece of the gardens and not only will it provide much needed water, but also it will be a place of calm for deep reverie. From the spring we can see 3 of the sacred sites of Glastonbury. The Holy Thorn Tree on Wearyhill, the Glastonbury Tor and the Chalice Hill. The gardens are south facing on the edge of the Somerset Levels, and are a beautiful and stunning site with views stretching for 15 miles. The field on which they are sited has been grazed organically since the 60’s and the soil is rich and fertile.
We also have a place in the gardens for a teaching/ workshop area and envisage permaculture type events happening there as well the Buddhist and Shamanic teachings that have already taken place. Above the teaching area is the place where Rompey or rather ‘Lord Rosimoth’ a rescued, rare breed fell pony, resides. He is a great draw for old and young alike to the gardens.
The Association has formed a Partnership with the Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partnership making a joint funding application to Access to Nature. Three members attended Youth Activity Training with CSOLP. CSOLP were funded by the Council’s youth fund to run a cob oven work shop in our garden on 21st November 2009 using the clay from the garden and 21 young people attended with more involved in preparation.