£1,000 award will help community garden blossom

GREEN-fingered residents have reaped the rewards for helping save a community garden from neglect with a £1,000 award.

GREEN-fingered residents have reaped the rewards for helping save a community garden from neglect with a £1,000 award.

Tucked away next to Whistler Street in Highbury, on land adjacent to the railway line, is Olden Garden. It was founded by a group of residents in 1987 when they convinced Islington Council a large piece of wasteland running down to the railway could be turned into a community garden.

But in recent years the garden fell into neglect, until residents launched a campaign to save it from dereliction when the wall fell down. The wall was fixed, the pond was repaired and new steps leading through apple trees down the embankment were put in. But the leaky "clubhouse" roof is still badly in need of repair.

The residents applied for help from It's Your Community, a national project funded by phone firm O2, which provides funds for projects which benefit the community or to build community spirit. Last Wednesday the delighted residents were presented with an award for £1,000 from It's Your Community.

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Anna Sullivan, Olden Garden vice chairwoman, said: "The whole place was a mass of brambles and was hardy used.

"People had been dumping rubbish here. We sort of rescued it from nature. It took quite a long time to do but we did it. We will be able to get a new roof for the clubhouse with the money from It's Your Community. We also hope eventually to get more money to build a new community building, with electricity and toilet facilities so schools will be able to use it too."

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Jill McKeown, who lives nearby, added: "We use Olden Garden for all sorts of things. We have a book exchange, a management committee, parties and barbecues in the summer and other community events.

"It is a 'forgotten' garden because a lot of people don't know it is here but we are trying to get more local people involved with it."

Residents wanting to use the garden are expected to volunteer to help out. The membership fee is £1 and it costs £3.50 for a key or it is free for OAPS and those not in work. Libby Symon, of It's Your Community, who presented the cheque, added: "It is a really nice example of what a community can do. These awards help support community efforts."

To find out more about membership of Olden Garden call 020 7226 6821. To find out more about It's Your Community funding visit itsyourcommunity.co.uk

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