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Sowing seeds: wasteland patch promises community harvest

In just a few years, a patch of once unused land in the middle of the Quarrendon estate in Aylesbury, Bucks, has been transformed into the beating heart of the community by the local church, reports

The once neglected scrap of land surrounding St Peter's Church, has been turned into a multipurpose green space – simultaneously a community garden, an exercise site, a place to grow food, an outdoor classroom, and a tranquil spot in the centre of the estate.

In partnership with local organisations, St Peter’s regularly takes referrals from the local GP surgery, known as ‘social prescribing’.

It also welcomes schools, the local Adult Education Centre, and the Youth Offenders Probation Service – where young adults learn new skills in landscaping and horticulture to help get them back into employment.

Even the fresh fruit and vegetables grown on the garden are distributed at the local food bank, and many raised beds have QR codes for people to watch videos on how to use the produce.

“You would be surprised how small a patch of land you can start a community garden on,” vicar Rev Pete Wheeler explains.

“The garden helps us tackle some of the markers of deprivation we find here – health and wellbeing, loneliness and isolation, education and skills, and poverty affecting both seniors and children – all exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Best of all, the garden causes local people to come into contact with a church family who welcome and love them.

“Throughout the week, relationships are built, and seeds are sown. Faith is nurtured and grown here.

“It is an amazing tool for mission in our wonderful estate community.”

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