Understanding environmental impact is crucial to sustainability and community quality of life.

Community Garden — clearing up

On Friday the 29th of August 2014, Torfaen Friends of the Earth with the support of Keep Wales Tidy and Torfaen County Borough Council spent a day clearing neglected ground at Railway Terrace in Sebastopol that we hope might one day become a community garden.

Clearing the site

The day started at 10 am when volunteers along with Keep Wales Tidy's Thom Board and Torfaen County Borough Council's Jon Howells gathered in the area which had been partially cleared of brambles, nettles and dead or dying small trees. Gloves, bin bags and pick-up tools were supplied by Thom. We all got to work digging out window frames, washing machine parts, armchair cushions, glass, a bath, numerous rotting carpets, shoes and more from amongst the roots of brambles and mud. All material removed from the site was put in a skip. The area already looks much improved from when it was all overgrown and strewn with years of rubbish.

Corinne Jones hard at work

Carole Jacob, Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Torfaen, said: "I had a great time getting active with a like-minded group of people to make a difference. Involving local people and groups in cleaning up, planting, improving and caring for their environment is a sustainable way forward for community cohesion, while at the same time providing plants and habitats for people and wildlife. This project is an exciting way of being involved and great fun at the same time. Torfaen Friends of the Earth are delighted to be part of this."

Jon Howells (TCBC countryside ranger), Carole Jacob, Corinne Jones, Cllr David Yeowell, Jane Young (Torfaen resident) & Thom Board (Keep Wales Tidy)

Also volunteering that day, but not photographed, were Councillor Stuart Ashley, Vince Wheatcroft, Dewi & Rhys Jones. More pictures of the site can be found on Thom Board's Flickr

What happens next?

Next Thom from Keep Wales Tidy will dig out more of the bramble roots and other growth so that we can remove the broken glass and other items lurking under the surface. Once that is done we'll arrange a date for the next litter pick at which there will be discussion on the future for the area.

A couple of large trees alongside the land are to felled, and some hazel trees are to be coppiced. Both actions will result in more sunlight reaching the land, thereby affording more growing possibilities. Communal growing areas have been suggested as one possible use of the land. However, whatever is planted will need volunteer commitment to care for the relevant parts of the garden, year round. If enough people are willing, a constituted group could be set up and then grant funding could be applied for.