Spring 2021 at Shipley Woodside Community Garden

Spring has seen a flurry of activity at the Community Garden, sowing seeds, potting on plants, dividing perennials, painting wooden structures, turning the compost, mulching and making preparations for our first event ‘Greenfolk Festival’, which took place on the 29th May.

The Garden has changed dramatically visually with the completion of the Shedquarters build and the large Wildlife Pond.

Thanks to grants from Shipley Parish Council, Seven Trent Community Fund, Councillor Richard Iliffe and the generosity of Long Eaton Sheds Ltd we now have our ‘Shedquarters’ where we will be able to host talks, workshops and provide a shelter for a cuppa on those rainy volunteering days!

The Honeybees woke up from their winter slumber and got straight to work! They also now have their own beautiful little pond so they have a water source right next to the hive. Resident beekeeper, Keith has pretty much single handedly created the beautiful area for the bees and his knowledge and passion for beekeeping is infectious. If anyone is interested in learning about beekeeping be sure to pop in on a Saturday and have a chat to Keith.

Plans are underway to enable visitors to don a bee suit and enter the apiary with Keith to learn and experience hands on beekeeping.

Volunteers have been busy sowing vegetable seeds in the Raised Beds, native cowslips have been sown in the Wildflower Meadow, a cut flower bed has been started and planted with Sweet Peas, Zinnias, Dahlias, Cosmos, Lupins, Antirrhinum all grown by volunteers plus much more on the way! The Polytunnel is now full of vegetables and strawberries and a newly planted grapevine, which seems to love its new home. We have even had our first harvest of radishes!

The remaining raised beds have been adopted as have some donated tyres and all planted with a variety of vegetables and herbs.

Great examples of companion planting shown in the pictures below with the ‘three sisters’ in the tractor tyre and tomatoes and basil in the polytunnel. Companion planting is an organic way of protecting crops from pests and / or improving pollination of crops.

The three sisters guild is corn, beans and squash and is one of the oldest known methods of companion planting, utilised by the Native Americans over 3000 years ago. The corn offers the beans support, the beans pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil to benefit all three crops and the large leaves of the squash protect the threesome by providing shade to the soil, keeping it cool and moist and preventing weeds.

Basil repels insects, enhances flavour and improves the growth of tomatoes.



Thanks to funding from Severn Trent Water Community Fund we now have a huge wildlife pond!

Spring 2021 at Shipley Woodside Community Garden - SEAG - Shipley Eco-Action Group

Some very kind men working in Ilkeston, far away from home, visited the garden, loved it and offered to come and dig the pond for us with the digger. Aren’t people just lovely! Volunteers were very grateful as just working on the finishing touches to make the different depths and shelves was challenging enough, especially in the wet sticky clay!

Over a couple of sessions, we completed the shelves, underlay and liner was laid down, the edging completed, pebbles and stones added to the beach area, landscaping and planting of the pond edging and banks, which included shifting some huge rocks donated by Waystone working on the Shipley Lakeside housing development. Lots of tall grasses have been planted in the bank and many more plants are to follow. The vision is to create a beautiful wildlife friendly habitat both in and around the pond.

Thanks to funding from Wash Arts CIC an arts organisation working to improve access to arts in Erewash and surrounding areas, we have carefully selected and sourced native pond plants to encourage a wide variety of wildlife. These will soon be ready for collection and planting.

Look out for our news with dates for summer pond-dipping.

The children’s natural play area took shape, with the completion of the mud kitchen, musical stand and the whole area mulched. There is more work to do on this but already, this proved a big hit with the kids at the Greenfolk Festival on the 29th May.

It is entirely down to volunteer Mick’s design and hard work that the Garden now has a fabulous firepit area, complete with seating and a wood store.

SEAG have teamed up with The Elka Project, a community archaeology based project inviting people to join in the excavations of some newly discovered ancient sites in Ilkeston. We have offered some land at the Garden to experiment with the clay extracted from the ground. This will then be put through a number of processes to achieve different qualities of malleable clay and from that, we can put it to the test by making Adobe kilns, Roman kilns, Bloom furnaces, Bread ovens, Pottery/Ceramics and Wattle and Daub, all done in the ancient ways and using the clay we have on site with no need for electricity or gas.

Tim Bennett heads up The Elka Project and has already got started on the first experiment by making an Adobe kiln, which is used for pottery and used the the clay extracted from the pond dig. We look forward to seeing how this experiment goes and trying out other techniques, the ultimate goal has to be a bread oven, mmmm!


The 29th May 2021 was a milestone for the Community Garden and a special day for all the volunteers as we held our first event. This was a long time in the planning having not been able to hold any events before now due to you know what! The sun came out for us, all the volunteers, musicians and stalls were on form, we had a fantastic turn out and really positive feedback. We honestly couldn’t have hoped for a better day. Seeing the garden being used and enjoyed by the community was heart warming and made all that planning and hard work worthwhile.

We also managed to raise an unbelievable £1,850.00 towards our next project for the garden, the barn workshop. Thank you so much to all those that attended, those that made a contribution to this figure and to all those volunteers and supporters of the garden that contributed and helped make the event happen, including the musicians Sensible Shoes and Blue Kettle Ceilidh Band, Derby Lodge Tea Rooms in Shipley Country Park, Shipley WI, Weleda, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derby Kids Camp.



We look forward to seeing you all again and meeting new faces at our next event on the 20th June 2021.


Finally, a lovely Spring Poem to conclude our Newsletter.

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