Waste ground transformed into community garden

Local people who will be using the plots at the Community Growing Space at Sperrin Park in the Waterside. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Local people who will be using the plots at the Community Growing Space at Sperrin Park in the Waterside. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
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A once derelict piece of waste ground in Derry has been transformed into a community garden, as a result of funding from the Housing Executive.

The Executive’s grounds team has been working with the Caw/Nelson Drive Action Group to create the new space at Sperrin Park, close to the Crescent Community and Cultural Centre.

Linda Watson, Co-ordinator, Caw Nelson Drive Action Group, with local growers, Masie Crawford and Vivian McConachie. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Linda Watson, Co-ordinator, Caw Nelson Drive Action Group, with local growers, Masie Crawford and Vivian McConachie. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

The official opening of the garden was the last duty of Stephen Stewart, an avid allotmenteer, who retired after 46 years as the Housing Executive’s Waterside district maintenance manager.

BBC Radio Foyle’s gardening expert, Gareth Austin, has also held workshops at the growing space over the last month.

The growing space has been established to allow older men and women living on the estate to come together to learn how to grow their own vegetables as well as building a better sense of community.

Stephen Proctor, Housing Executive Grounds Supervisor, said: “This growing space will benefit local people by improving physical and mental health through regular outdoor activities.

Masie Crawford at her growing space with Mark Hunter and Rolf Hamilton from the Housing Executive, Cllr Drew Thompson, Chairman of Caw/Nelson Drive Action group, Stephen Stewart, retiring after 46 years with the Housing Executive, Avril McAlister, Area Manager, Linda Watson and Stephen Proctor, Housing Executive. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Masie Crawford at her growing space with Mark Hunter and Rolf Hamilton from the Housing Executive, Cllr Drew Thompson, Chairman of Caw/Nelson Drive Action group, Stephen Stewart, retiring after 46 years with the Housing Executive, Avril McAlister, Area Manager, Linda Watson and Stephen Proctor, Housing Executive. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

“It will educate and empower them to improve their dietary intake and also offers an opportunity to acquire new skills.”

Mr Proctor added such a positive use of outdoor space helped teach people where their food comes from at a time when having access to healthy and affordable food is vital.

“This type of project has shown that there is a reduction in anti-social behaviour within estates because there is a greater sense of ownership of green spaces,” he added.

Linda Watson, Co-ordinator of the Caw/Nelson Drive Action Group, said: “Once again, we are delighted to have worked in partnership with the Housing Executive’s grounds team in creating this wonderful space in the heart of our community.

“It’s all about people getting out of the house, learning how to grow vegetables and flowers from seeds and sharing ideas.

“We are really looking forward to seeing the vision coming to fruition over the coming months and hopefully the residents who will be looking after the beds will get many hours of pleasure from the space.”