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Local resident turns derelict ground into a community garden

Local St Mellons resident, Glenys Vandervolk, has turned a derelict piece of ground into a community garden.

Five years ago, living in a community housing development in St Mellons, Cardiff, Glenys, now in her 70’s, spotted a small patch of derelict ground that she set out to turn into a community garden.

Rousing the help of her neighbours and support of Wales and West Housing Association, the land now has a pond, summer house, composting loo and grows lots of fruit and vegetables for all the community to share and enjoy. In Autumn each year Glenys makes jam and chutneys and sells these to help raise money for the community. The garden has won many awards over the years such as a Tidy Wales Award from Keep Wales Tidy.

St Mellons community garden

Why a Big Lunch?

It was on a visit to the Eden Project in 2017 that Glenys first heard of The Big Lunch and was determined to hold one of her own. Unfortunately, life events got in the way last year and while she was unable to hold a lunch, it made her even more determined to hold her first one this year.

“I’ve got as many people as possible involved to make sure that this will be a day to remember for everyone that comes along. I live in a cul de sac and all the neighbours are more than happy to park their cars elsewhere while we have the lunch, so that just left the food and of course the games to organise.”

International relations

“We are quite a mix of nationalities and backgrounds, so I decided that we should go with a round the World theme for the food and games. I am Welsh, but will be making a Greek dish, with others bringing dishes from Wales, Turkey, Moroccan Jamaica and Germany – to name but a few.

“I’ve also got a giant world map that we are going to use to get the children to guess which country each dish comes from.

“Wales and West Housing Association are being as supportive as ever and are lending us a tea urn and we have a host of gazebos on hand just in case the great British weather lets us down.”

Reaching out Further

While I already know most of my neighbours, this will be a great opportunity to get everyone together, to all get to know each other better. We have invited lots of different people from lots of different areas including extending invitations out to friends and relatives of neighbours.

“Apart from hopefully making it a fantastic party on the day, I am hoping that this will encourage others to then go back into their own communities and be enthused to get to know their neighbours better – and even hold their own Big Lunches next year.”

Teaching the next generation

“In particular I am hoping to teach the next generation of the importance of reaching out and getting to know those around you. I’ve made so many wonderful friends, literally in my own back yard and have shared so much laughter as a result. It is also reassuring to know that if I ever need any help, there is always someone there close by.”

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