Transition Sunderland

Hendon Natural Community Garden – Opening Event

Saturday 11th March 2017 saw the unofficial – unofficial as the formal agreement with the Council has yet to be signed – opening of Hendon Natural Community Garden (HNCG).
The forecast was cloudy with showers, perfect weather. Several families turned up, some bringing food, sandwiches, cakes, bread & honey, fruit and even a kettle, (they’re a resourceful lot) enough to feed the five thousand!

Land receives blessing by The Reverend Chris Howson

The land received a blessing. We spoke briefly of the plans for the site, posed for a group photograph, then we were off! The main event today was planting five apple trees – five trees is the minimum amount to constitute an orchard under DEFRA guidelines. We hope to manage the area beneath the trees as a forest garden – a common Permaculture practice.

Group photo before the start

This event was organised to both introduce the group to the site and to plant the trees which we hope The Tree Council will help us to fund.

The trees were ordered from Scottish Fruit Trees a social enterprise whose mission is to cover Scotland in fruit trees! The thinking behind ordering from them rather than the larger fruit tree providers in the South of England was “if they grow in Scotland, they’ll surely grow here in the North East of England” and also to support this social enterprise in its mission. The trees are all different varieties spanning the apple harvesting seasons, early, mid and late. The varieties are:

George Cave
James Grieve
Bloody Ploughman
Red Falstaff

Luke and Angela get hands on

In accordance with the group’s ethos to grow food in partnership with Nature, we will not use any chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides on the land and will try to support wildlife any way we can. In this photograph Allan shows Luke & Angela how to coat the roots with a product containing mycorrhizal fungi to give the trees an excellent chance in their new home.

Coating roots with Mycorrhizal fungi a natural product

So, while some began planting the trees – aided by several children keen to get dirty – Carol was pond-dipping, keen to introduce the children to the other members of this natural community. Amongst the mini-beasts we identified a Water Boatman & a Damselfly nymph, not bad for a first attempt.

Seeking other members of this natural community

As some of us began to weary, others arrived to take over the planting; time for some food & a cuppa! During the tea break several members shared their thoughts about how they foresee the garden taking shape in the future. Some excellent ideas were shared and taken on board to build into the management plan.

Mark and Jake arrive to finish planting the last tree

“Jake and I had a fantastic time in the community garden.  We helped to plant an apple tree under the watchful eye of the volunteers and we also spotted a toad, jumping around the tree beds.  We definitely plan on visiting and helping out at Hendon community garden again”


As the event drew to a close there was one more surprise, another member of the natural community showed their face to much appreciation from the group – a toad!

All in all a fantastic first event, we look forward to many more in the future.

Transition Toad!

We would also like to say a big thank you to Connor Harte the photographer for the day. Connor is based in the north east of England he is currently studying (3rd Year) Photography, Video & Digital Imaging at Sunderland University. A link to his photography page is below.

Connor helping out at A Space To Grow

2 thoughts on “Hendon Natural Community Garden – Opening Event

  1. David

    What a fantastic new initiative. Much needed in an area of the city left deflated and depleted by industries that closed down as uneconomic.

    1. Allan Rowell

      Thank you David,

      and my apologies for such a late reply. We hope to offer a place where the local community can come together to enjoy the natural surroundings and be inspired to grow some of their own food, while also setting areas of land aside for nature.

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