Open work sessions at 17th Century Kitchen Garden

Green fingered volunteers sought for historial garden maintenance

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Karen Liebreich
Kitchen Garden Co-ordinator
020 8400 9648


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Volunteers are sought for open work session on Tuesday 19 July from 6pm until park closing time (approx 9.30)
and Saturday 30 July 2-6.30pm at the Chiswick House Kitchen Garden.

Children welcome as long as they work and the parents are responsible for them. Payment in kind (cramps, cabbages,
companionship etc.)

It was back in January of this year an exciting new project began to revive the historic Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House and Gardens. Volunteers from Chiswick Horticultural Society were given permission to bring in local school children to clear the undergrowth and begin planting peas, lettuces and all the usual edible plants that can be grown in a living Kitchen Garden. The two-acre garden is situated beyond the Camellia House, behind the wall that runs alongside the hockey pitch.

The gardens, created in 1683, originally formed part of the property of Sir Stephen Fox, Paymaster General to the Armed Forces, neighbour to Lord Burlington at Chiswick House, and boss of Samuel Pepys. They were added to the Chiswick House lands in 1812, and formed part of the grounds of the local lunatic asylum in the early 20th century. The Beatles shot a film for their single 'Paperback Writer' there in May 1966. The gardens served as a Council nursery until the 1980s, but then budgetary constraints meant they were shut up and have lain neglected ever since, apart from one corner that is still used as a holding ground for bedding plants for the Council.

Since the beginning of this year, local schoolchildren have been digging and weeding brambles, nettles and other noxious weeds to clear a small area for cultivation. The first peas and onions were planted in early March and since then school parties of eight to seventeen-year-olds have been gradually clearing and planting the Kitchen Garden. Open work sessions started in late May and volunteers have continued the good work. The first crop - lettuces - was ready to eat in May, and since then schools and volunteer workers have enjoyed the produce, with any surplus being offered for sale locally. There are ambitious plans for strawberries, tomatoes, artichokes, garlic, squashes and much much more.

In May the Gardens were opened to the public for one day, and it is hoped that public access will be increased, for those wishing to look and admire, as well as for those willing to work! In an age of childhood obesity and a lack of contact with nature, this Kitchen Garden is proving an oasis where children can experience something new and valuable, while at the same time restoring an important local amenity.

The next Open Days will be on 24 and 25 September 2005.



July 16, 2005