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Brightening up the community


S 50


ix months ago, commuters at London Road railway station in Brighton would walk to the platform past two overgrown, litter strewn patches of land that lay to either side of the main entrance. Now, passengers are welcomed by bright fuchsia, foxgloves and a variety of vegetables that would put a supermarket to shame. The transformation is down to the hard work of volunteers who organised themselves into the London Road Station Partnership, supported by Southern Railways. Undaunted by a tangle of weeds and rubbish, the group discovered the existence of the Sussex Community Rail Partnership that encourages people to put station land to better use for the local community. Southern Railways funded water


SUSSEX LIVING October 2011


butts, soil improver and woodchip, compost was donated by VEOLIA and local scaffolding firm, Gordon Chalmers, donated planks for raised beds. Neighbours gave plants and seedlings. Elspeth Broady took a break from digging to tell me “it’s been a real focus for people to stop and chat.” Local resident Madeleine Cary dug in the first plant which has now produced mangetout to go with plump gourds, marrows, tomatoes, chard, cabbage, radish and frisée lettuce. There are plans for a mini orchard and raised beds are in the process of being filled. The two sites are very different; one is a shady triangle, now bursting with ferns, mahonia japonica, bergenia and heuchera. Vibrant snapdragons and big leafed fatsia add to a colourful mix that prompted one passenger to comment,


by Ruth Lawrence Photography: Ruth Lawrence


“I come through this station every morning and it’s really cheered me up.” Volunteers wanted scented plants so that people could smell them from the platform as well as enjoy the sight while walking up the slope. Vegetables are thriving on the second plot, a south facing rectangle backed by a tall white wall which the group intend to act as a backdrop for climbers.


The project is an inspiration of how much a small group can successfully achieve to brighten up their community. The gardens have had far reaching effects, encouraging people to connect and interact, improving the appearance of a once drab eyesore, producing food, bringing land back into use and a profound sense of purpose and reward.


www.sussexliving.com


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