What is 'The Mound'?

Photo:Sign for community garden on corner of Church Street and Portland Street

Sign for community garden on corner of Church Street and Portland Street

Photo:The garden starts to take shape: aerial view

The garden starts to take shape: aerial view

Location of the site

Community garden created on derelict space

Collective of community gardeners

A collective of community gardeners has been regenerating a concrete junk yard in the heart of the North Laine, a site which has been derelict for at least 14 years, into a new community garden. However, the managing agents are threatening to remove the work done by the gardeners and to clear the site, leaving it as a wasteland once again.

Where and what

Just below the Earth & Stars pub, on the corner of Church Street and Portland Street, lies this site that has been an eyesore for the local community, littered with junk, for many years. Now, this new garden is a space for the community to work on together and to radically regenerate an urban wasteland whilst learning how to grow plants, particularly food. As an alcohol and drug-free, family-friendly space there is potential for this large vacant space to be used for educational activities and workshops on broader social, political and ecological issues in the future.

Who are the gardeners?

Those working on the community garden are a loose affiliation of individuals organising horizontally and through consensus decision making. Many live in the North Laine but supporters also come from the wider Brighton community.

What have they done?

It took several weeks, mainly working at the weekend, to clear the land of all the fly-tipped rubbish and weeds. With a clear site, gardeners created raised beds by re-using wooden pallets. They also set up a community compost site and rain-water collecting system. The gardeners used recycled and donated materials to transform the space.

Discussions with the developers

The gardeners attempted discussion with the property managers but they were not willing to discuss a possible use for the land while it is vacant. Now they are intending to destroy the hard work of the community, leaving the site once again as a waste land.

Suggestion of a 'Meanwhile lease'

The gardeners have also explored the possibility of a “Meanwhile lease”, a concept that was launched by the Environment Secretary in March 2010. This is an agreement for temporary use of vacant buildings or land for a socially beneficial purpose until such time as it can be brought back into commercial use.

The full document and wider information on the Meanwhile Project is available at www.meanwhile.org.uk.

Support from local people

The gardeners have received much support from local residents and passers-by and welcomes people's physical, mental and material support.

More information

See http://www.brighton-mound.org.uk/ to find out more information about The Mound or watch 'Introducing the Mound' on YouTube to see what has been achieved to date.

STOP PRESS!

At a packed hearing at Brighton Magistrates Court on 23rd March 2011 the developers succeeded in gaining a court order for the land to be vacated. The judge was clearly sympathetic to the gardeners however, and although he said that legally his hands were tied he did refuse to award court costs to the developers and (despite the legal request) refused to allow the gardeners' nominated speaker to be held in any way personally responsible.

Disappointment

The Mound are disappointed that ways to move forward in partnership with the developers, including exploring options such as a ‘meanwhile lease’, seem no longer likely. The gardeners would still like to try and enter into dialogue with them.

If you have any comments you can add them below.

This page was added on 03/04/2011.
Comments/reviews:

I think this is a fantastic project involving people who are really passionate about community. I've met some of the gardeners and their energy and commitment is really inspiring. More people should follow their lead and start food growing projects all over the city! It's such a shame that Hargreaves can't let them stay and harvest the seeds they have sown!

By Terry
On 07/04/2011

Why had the Council allowed the space to be left as an eysore to the area?

By Sharon Carter
On 23/05/2011

This site is not owned by the Council but by a private development company. Therefore unfortunately the Council could do nothing.

By Jackie Fuller
On 24/05/2011

Subsequent to the above article, I was very sorry to read in the July/August 2011 issue of the North Laine Runner about the demolition of the ‘The Mound’ community garden by the site owners. I’ve just returned from Vancouver – how differently they do things there! I went to Davie Street to pass on fraternal greetings from Brighton. With Pride flags, ethnic restaurants, and gay pubs and businesses, it reminded me very much of Brighton – and yes, they have a community garden. It was a pleasure to wander among the productive plots and talk to some of the urban gardeners. The site belongs to developers but they came to an arrangement whereby residents can rent a plot for 10 dollars a year (about £7) and have a key to a large communal shed for storing tools, plus a water supply. How civilised! It’s been running for 3 or 4 years, although this arrangement may end next year if building finally goes ahead. In the meantime it’s made many people very happy.

By Elaine Evans
On 20/08/2011

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