Saxmundham Neighbourhood Plan

We must safeguard Saxmundham’s community garden

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 2:11 pm

Employment and housing will rightly be major concerns for Saxmundham’s residents. But just as important, in my view, is the need for Saxmundham to ‘transition’ to a more green and sustainable future.

Many of us now want to know where our food comes from, and how it is produced. We increasingly trust food that is grown locally. And many of us are choosing to keep our larders stocked with vegetables and herbs grown by our own hands. Some of us enjoy working at our gardening in community with others. That way we make friends, learn together, and celebrate the achievement of a successful harvest.

Unfortunately, Saxmundham does not provide allotments. But thanks to a group of people behind Greener Sax, and those supporting the work of Leading Lives at the Fromus Centre, there is a thriving community garden – which as Penny Mackay has argued, “is one of our town’s hidden jewels”.  The land has been cared for, cultivated and maintained by volunteers (led by Penny and George White). It is used for people with disabilities, for youth groups like the Boy Scouts, as well as for the rest of the community. That is why we would like to see the garden protected and expanded. In particular, given the absence of allotments in Sax, we would like the County Council to dedicate the land to the wider community, so that – as the rest of the larger Fromus Centre site is (we understand) to be sold and developed – this valued and treasured green space can be more widely shared with the “Saxmundham Neighbourhood”.

The garden is hidden away next to the Fromus Centre (Seaman Ave, Saxmundham IP17 1DZ) – which was once part of a social services residential centre.  It is divided into sections, with one part known as “the scented garden” and offering seclusion and peace. Another part has been cleared for the laying of suitable paths for wheelchairs. The largest part has small, raised beds, allocated to members of the community that wish to “grow their own”. We are very proud of the wild flower area, and the small orchard of apple trees, a medlar and a walnut planted a couple of years ago. The work of clearing the ground of bramble in order to plant the orchard was tough, and undertaken by some heroic volunteers. We are also proud of the role we played in digging holes and planting the fruit trees that now line the back of the Memorial Field. We hope they will soon mature and bring pleasure to all who use the Field.

It has been hard going – but immensely rewarding, not just for the volunteers, but for the many Saxmunders that use the garden. Demand is growing for green spaces. That’s why the Neighbourhood Plan should provide for the protection and expansion of the Fromus Community Garden.  It will be a legacy that the County Council as well as the Town can be proud of.