The Big Garden, Colchester

Some picture and background on The Big Garden, from Simon, who has just attended the introductory Permaculture course there. He says "It nearly stopped raining once!" The Big Garden @ High Woods Country Park The Big Garden occupies a field of formerly agricultural land within High Woods Country Park in Colchester with panoramic views across the valley towards the town. Part of the garden is planted as an orchard with a large vegetable garden at the centre. A shelterbelt planted on two sides of the garden is bordered by an area being developed for wildlife, with a pond, stag beetle and mini beast habitats and beehives.  What we aim to do
  • To develop and maintain the orchard and vegetable garden using organic techniques.
  • Develop wildlife habitats to support organic gardening and conservation.
  • Conserve local fruit tree varieties planted in the orchard.
  • Grow heritage and other vegetable varieties and save seed for future use.
  • Show participants how to garden in a sustainable way.
  • Give access to fresh food to the local community.
  • Provide an opportunity for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems to learn practical and personal skills.
  • Provide an opportunity to local residents to learn gardening techniques for fruit and vegetable growing.
  • Encourage children to engage in gardening and conservation through school activities and family focused events.
Facilities include a shelter for breaks and cover from the rain or shade from the sun. A poly-tunnel provides a growing space under cover and somewhere to work out of the wind and cold in the winter. Crops grown are harvested and shared out with volunteers. Many different and often interrelated tasks are required to maintain the garden, from seed collecting, sowing and potting, planting, watering, mulching to constructing compost bins, weeding and composting. We use materials from the management of the countryside sites, including coppiced wood for bean poles and pea sticks, labels and dibbers and garden lines made on the pole lathe. Groups accessing the garden include people with a learning disability, mental health problem, families, school groups, and people with small gardens or who are on the allotment waiting list. Text taken from Big Garden website www.colchester.gov.uk/biggarden  see site for contact info etc  

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