History of the Garden
Years ago Cow green was farmland. In the late 1800's there are records of it being the Henry Day Walled Garden/Days Kitchen Garden. Henry Day was a butcher with a shop on the corner of Oxford Grove where Barclay's Bank now is.
It is around this time that the land was also used as an abattoir, probably also owned by Henry Day, hence the name `Cow Green', and we still find old cow bones on site these days.
In 1908 the land was transferred and either an existing building was used or a new one built which was known as the Drill Hall, where the Army Cadets met and probably other clubs such as the Scouts.
In 1931 this became Ilfracombe Boxing Club.
At one point the land was used as allotments, this may have been during the `Kitchen Garden' Days although it was also during/after the Boxing Club days. Even these days we sometimes dig up the odd potato!
When the allotments finished the site became derelict and became a dumping site for rubbish and old cars. It was also an escape route from the back of the pub on the high street.
The idea for a community garden
A few people in Trans-send, the sustainable living charity, had the brilliant idea of creating a community garden based on eco friendly principles, created and managed by local people and really dedicated to the gardenless residents of Ilfracombe.
Grants were obtained from The countryside Agency as part of The Doorsteps Green Initiative and also local government and other bodies and the garden was born.
The first turf was cut in December 2002 by Local MP Nick Harvey.
Lots of local school children and residents gathered ideas together. Everyone was very enthusiastic and lots of people volunteered. Then there was a big lull while legal wrangles were sorted out and boundaries agreed etc. Nothing seemed to be happening, and some of the initial enthusiasm evaporated.
But the garden idea didn't die! !
The garden starts to take shape
In 2002 with the help of so many volunteers, voluntary groups like the Princes Trust, Hinkley group, the Probation Service, North Devon, Ilfracombe Primary and junior schools, The volunteer centre, Sure Start, Trans-Send and many many more, the garden started taking shape.
We appointed a landscape architect to oversee the work plan.
Paul Crabbe, the contractor, put in the paths and huge water tanks and put up the railings; it was starting to look like a garden at last!
The Sure Start children's garden took shape with a labyrinth and fencing, picnic area and raised beds. Over 100 woodland trees and willows, which were donated, and were planted in the woodland area.
The Workshop area has been created by local young people in an art project managed by the Working Together Project and funded through North Devon College.
Tom, our volunteer gardener, started to weed and plant new wild life plants. Groups of volunteers built the staging, the pergola, planters and the shed. A community artist, with the help of school students, started the contemplation bench.
Most of all, the wild flowers and wildlife were making it look like a proper wild life garden, we have frogs, hedgehogs, loads of birds, butterflies and ladybirds!
Local people started to donate plants and bulbs every single day. The Garden Today
It's really looking beautiful, full of wildflowers and wildlife. It is a wildlife eco garden so no pesticides are used and most of the invasive weeds have been dug out. What's left is wild and indigenous plants and friendly weeds!
Hempcrete and sustainable wood is used for the structures and all the lighting will be solar powered.
The wetland area is to be developed by The Coast and Countryside Agency starting on 3rd October 2005. They will create a wildlife pond, a waterfall powered by solar energy and there will be wetland plants around the edge.
The garden is an ongoing project and we have lots of ideas of how to develop it. The Sure Start children's garden is to be completed. The workshop area created by the Ilfracombe Youth Art project is to be finished and we have loads of ideas of how to make best use of it. We hope to put up bird and bat boxes and hold lots of wildlife workshops as part of an education programme.
If you have any ideas please tell us, it is your garden!!