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Down the lane: A Dig Merton story

Tucked between Western road and Church Road in Mitcham is a 1,000 sq meter plot of land called Fieldgate Lane. It has, up untill now, been an unloved space suffering from dog mess and fly tipping. Many locals are used to calling it the ‘dump’.

All this is now changing thanks to a unique partnership of interested parties and stakeholders who, together, are determined to make this space a community garden and orchard to be loved and cherished by the local residents.

The project is part of the Dig Merton scheme and work is now well under way. The first action day took place on the 12th March and, thanks to a group of hard-working volunteers, the land was cleared of fly tipped waste, wind blown litter and old foliage. The soft fruit trench was dug, the wild meadow area was roughed up and all sites for the new fruit trees were prepared for planting. A number of locals stopped by to chat about the project and one has already been in touch to offer her help.

Work resumed on 20th March, and during another busy and productive day, Merton’s newest orchard was planted down on Fieldgate Lane. Almost 30 young fruit trees were sown, including varieties of apple, pear and plum bred right here in Merton. It was very hard work but with the partnership of people from Barratt Homes,Circle Housing Merton Priory, Merton Council, Sustainable Merton and local residents, great progress was made. We were also supported by three members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association and have plans to work with them again in the future.

The former wasteland area will eventually support 29 fruit trees, as well as a variety of soft fruits, flowers and six raised beds for vegetables.

This project is only possible because several different partners – Barratt Homes, Merton Council, Circle Housing Merton Priory, Sustainable Merton, The Urban Orchard Project and local residents are working together to transform the land. It is expected that, in time, the local people will be the ones to take responsibility for much of the day to day management and so benefit from it’s transformation.

Tom Walsh

CEO Sustainable Merton

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