In May 2013 five local residents got together with the aim of creating a Community Garden in the heart of Forest Gate. On 6th July the idea for the garden was brought to the public at the Forest Gate Festival and received overwhelming support. Informal discussions began with the Council, owners of the site, in November 2013.
The proposed site at the corner of Earlham Grove and Sprowston Road, originally a Victorian villa, was overgrown and had been used for fly-tipping for a number of years, although remnants of the house could been seen in places.
Forest Gate Community Garden Community Interest Company was formed in February 2014 and currently has over 300 members. Our first public consultation was held in March. Whilst negotiations with Newham Council went on, the team kept up public awareness and recruited lots of new members via our gardening course, the Forest Gate Festival and creating a pop-up garden on Sebert Road to coincide with the celebrations for the Tour de France coming to Newham. 2014 also saw our first AGM and official site visit.
On 22nd May 2015 our 5-year lease was signed, with planning permission for 3 years, and with some initial funding we were able to get started. Building began in July 2015 after gathering together materials donated by various charities, the local community and scavenged from skips and building sites within the local area.
In June local artist Jim Valentine won a national competition to create artwork for the external hoarding. Painting the hoarding, our first major project, took place in September 2015. The painting was done by over 70 volunteers and members of the public and is the largest public artwork in Newham.
Now it was time to concentrate on creating the garden itself and plans were drawn up over the summer alongside site clearance. The inside structures took a team of dedicated volunteers just over a year to complete during our Saturday morning ‘Make The Garden Grow’ sessions.
The Garden was officially opened to the public on 12 June 2016 – a soggy but memorable day and it only took 3 years to get there!