Church transforms wasteland to community garden

Archbishop Barry with members of Eco Group of Fairwater Primary School and their headteacher Carolyn Mason (left) and teacher Chris Brown (right)

The Archbishop of Wales was in Cardiff yesterday to visit a former scrubland that is now changing lives thanks to a community-led makeover.

St Peter's Community Garden in the Fairwater area of the city was created out of wasteland by volunteers from more than 15 local organisations.

The acre of land that was once covered in briars and brambles is now a thriving garden and nature reserve complete with lawn, pond, vegetable patch and mini Welsh heritage orchard.

Volunteers who worked on the project included parishioners, young offenders, people with learning needs and children from the neighbouring school, Fairwater Primary.

Now the whole project is set to be developed further thanks to a £10,000 donation from the Archbishop's Mission and General Fund and a £10,000 grant from Llandaff Diocese's Board of Social Responsibility.

The £20,000 boost will go towards maintaining the garden and transforming the adjacent community hall.

During his visit, Archbishop Barry Morgan saw new solid oak benches made for the garden by workers he met from Vision 21, the Cardiff-based charity providing training for people with learning needs.

Vision 21 is also making and fitting raised beds and a trellis for the Quiet Garden.

The benches and beds have been funded by a £3,000 donation from the Diocese of Llandaff while the Quiet Garden received £1,000 from the Pontyclun's Community Shop.

Dr Morgan said, "The Church is in the business of caring and exists to serve the community. This project is a fantastic example of that. It has literally changed lives because it has given hope and a sense of purpose to people.

"The garden is a place where church members, ex-offenders, children and people with learning needs meet together as equals. It shows that the church is interested in the whole person, not just their spiritual life, and is doing something practical to help them."

The garden was the vision of parishioner Ian Thompson who was appointed project manager by the vicar, Father Colin Sutton.

It was visited by the Princess Royal last year when trees were planted for a hedgerow as part of the Woodland Trust's Jubilee Woods Project to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

It is hoped the garden will be open to the public three days a week from the spring.

Father Sutton said, "The development of the garden has gone smoothly over the past year. We are building up our bank of volunteers and training them but we could do with more.

"We're looking forward to being able to keep the garden open for three days a week in the spring.

" We're also excited about a new partnership we've formed with the Probation Service. Probationers will do placements with us and start work on transforming the community hall, which is the next phase of the project."

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