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Monday, 24 October 2011

Harvest time at groundbreaking Beaulieu community garden

School children at Beaulieu helped bring in the harvest at a unique community garden helped by funding from the New Forest National Park Authority.
Children aged six and seven from Year Two at Beaulieu Primary School help bring in the harvest at Fairweather’s Learning Garden, Beaulieu, with garden owner Patrick Fairweather and Vicky Myers, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.
Fairweather’s Garden Centre set up Patrick’s Patch four years ago with 30% of the cost covered by the National Park’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).

Now the National Park is inviting more people to send in applications to the Fund, which supports projects that encourage greener living.

Garden owner Patrick Fairweather said: ‘We wouldn’t and couldn’t have built the garden to the specification we need to accommodate schoolchildren safely without the funding from the National Park’s SDF. It has also enabled us to afford to employ a part-time gardener to help with the development of the garden.

‘We have regular school visits and at the end of most sessions the children have a picnic and get the opportunity to eat something they have had a part in growing – for some children that is really groundbreaking. For children who come here from central Southampton, it is often the first time they have had the opportunity to do gardening.’

Patrick said the garden also has a loyal band of volunteers who have benefited in different ways – a few with mental health issues who appreciate the therapeutic benefits of gardening, others who come for the physical exercise and many for the social side.

‘We also use the veg in our cafe opposite and the garden is another attraction to bring visitors into Beaulieu village and therefore support other businesses,’ Patrick said.

Vicky Myers, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund, encouraged community groups, individuals and businesses to submit applications for their projects.

She said: ‘There’s a real breadth of projects the SDF can support, from renewable energy technologies in a community building to local produce schemes, eco-improvements in a B&B and support for a village shop – anything with environmental, community and economic benefits for the New Forest.

‘Instead of being just a veg patch next door to a garden centre, this fantastic Fairweather’s scheme is about sustainability, the community, green living and education.

‘We would love to hear your ideas.’

The SDF funds up to 75% of a project’s cost and grants can be up to £50,000. The money can be used for practical work – labour costs, equipment and materials, feasibility studies or research projects, education, training, and awareness-raising.

Find out more about the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) at, or call SDF Officer Andy Brennan on 01590 646676.

1 comment:

  1. I live in the middle of nowhere in a very sparsely populated part of west Devon. I have always lived in the middle of nowhere. Therefore it would be very wrong of me to suggest that people who live in towns and cities should be denied the freedoms of rural England. Sadly it isn't as simple as that.

    One person on a trials motor bike can cause immense damage to very vulnerable landscapes. So can twenty people on cycles or a hundred on foot. If we allow free access to all parts we risk seeing that damage destroying what we want people to be able to enjoy.

    Schemes such at Pat's garden are wonderful and I would do everything I can to encourage them but the I find the title 'Sustainable Development Fund' worrying. Pat's patch isn't sustainable without constant input - work, if you prefer, to keep it in shape. Really, all this grumpy old man is saying is that you have chosen the wrong name because it gives the wrong impression and, as I Tweeted 'Sustainable Development won't work'unless it can guarantee that it 'sustains' the environment it is (rightly) seeking to exploit.