A neglected open space has been transformed into a welcoming community garden by a team of volunteer gardeners in Penzance.
Weethes Cottages Community Garden (WCCG) has brought neighbours of all ages together (from 8yrs – 77yrs) to transform an unused and previously neglected space into a haven for people and wildlife!
It all started in November 2019, before the pandemic began, when Cllr Penny Young knocked on the door of local resident Lisa Spooner to ask whether residents would be interested in a community gardening project.
Back then, there was an oval of green space in front of the Cottages which was overgrown with weeds; a space that residents couldn’t use or enjoy.
The project has since grown and has included talking to Cormac Ltd, applying for a licence to look after the space and meeting up with Penzance Community Flora Group.
All residents were invited to take part and soon a core group of members formed to start making their plans a reality.
The project has really helped our community be more cohesive” says Lisa.
“People who have barely spoken to each other, perhaps did not even know names in their however-many-years living as neighbours, have become friends. This has extended to wider friends and family, building connections through shared enjoyment of the community garden.”
The initial plan was to turn the space into a wildflower meadow, but it has evolved into a dynamic community space. A central path links two seating areas and a variety of different planting provides plenty of interest for anyone wanting to get out and appreciate nature!
Aerial view of the garden The garden is a haven for wildlife Some of the WCCG volunteers Aerial view of the garden
The wildlife has increased in the area and feedback from people who live nearby has been very positive.
“This is a wonderful bringing together of our small community through our joint work on this island of growth here in Weethes Cottages” said Rob.
“It’s been joyous to see this project grow and for us all to come together in the development of WCCG. And long may it continue!”
Local resident Pat told of how the project has made such a big difference to her life: “I’ve always wanted a garden – and now I have one! I am out here most days, it gets me out of the house and keeps me active.”
Cllr Penny Young said, “this project exceeded all expectations due to Lisa’s commitment and hard work, and the enthusiasm and dedication of the Weethes gardeners.”
Penzance Council unanimously declared a Climate Emergency in April 2019. Since then, as part of our Climate Emergency Action Plan, we have been working hard to put ‘our own house in order’; lobby Cornwall Council and central government to take action; and provide support to make things happen across the parish.
The WCCG project was not directly funded by Penzance Council, but grants are available to community groups who would like to do something similar in their area – like newly formed group Treenere Grows who are hatching plans to improve the biodiversity and habitats of two open areas in East Penzance. Their grant application of £300 to Penzance Council was approved at the last Finance & General Purposes Committee to help them purchase plants, seeds, bird boxes, and bug hotels!
Images kindly provided by Weethes Cottages Community Garden.