Community Garden Opening on 16th May: Planting Slots Open For Booking!

Photo credit: Grow Community – Sopwell

We’re finally there! Grow Community – Sopwell are excited to announce the opening of the Community Garden on Sunday 16th May 2021.

Work has already been taking place at the site to level the ground, ready for the raised beds. These will then be filled with topsoil and compost ready for the main event.

What will be happening on the Sunday? We have opened a number of managed 15-minute time slots, where you can sign up to come along and plant one of the first batches of seedlings in the beds. To avoid queueing, you can sign up to plant a seedling here:


Cupcakes and refreshments will be available.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Note: Please note that the community launch day is Sunday 16th May. We apologize that in the SRA newsletter we have made an error and had put 17th May.


Marlborough Pavilion: View The Plans

Image credit: Kyle Smart Associates and St Albans City and District Council (Design and Access Statement)

Some fantastic news in our journey towards getting a Community Hub for Sopwell: The full planning details for the proposed building at the Marlborough Pavilion site are now available for public viewing, and we can finally show you what the new centre will look like! For more information, view the Documents section for the application on the SADC Planning Portal (a good place to start if you want an overview of the building is the “Design and Access Statement” document, about half way down the list).

Image credit: Kyle Smart Associates and St Albans City and District Council (Design and Access Statement)
Image credit: Smith Jenkins Town Planning (Planning Statement, Marlborough Pavilion, St Albans)

Community hub planning application set for March

Artist’s impression of proposed community hub. Image credit: St Albans District Council

We are pleased to let you know that we are a step closer in getting our hoped-for community hub at the Marlborough Pavilion site in Sopwell.

A planning application for the project is due to be submitted by St Albans District Council next month, with the proposed building including “a main hall of 100 square metres, a café, a kitchen suitable for providing event catering and Changing Places toilets. There will also be wudu wash facilities for members of the Muslim community to carry out ablutions before prayer and a multi-faith quiet room for anyone to use for personal reflection or prayer.” These are alongside a cycle hub and outside improvements to the local BMX track.

Read the whole press release on the Council website here and the associated Herts Advertiser piece here.


The Big Reveal: Your new Community Garden site!

After a recent council engagement exercise in relation to the site of the new community garden in Sopwell, we are pleased to announce that the community garden will be created next to the Berners Drive play area.

Over the coming months, work to install the garden will take place. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the area!

The Engagement Response

The Berners Drive site was selected by the majority of respondents (42%).

The majority of local residents who responded to the engagement were in favour of a community garden in the area, citing community wellbeing and increased food-growing skills:

“Good to build local community food growing capability and knowledge and bring the community together.”

“Exactly the sort of project we should be encouraging with positive environmental and community aspects.”

The Berners Drive site was favoured due to it being a relatively safe place away from main roads, being central in the ward, and being an area that many residents pass by.

You can read the full report of the engagement exercise on our website here:

The Community Garden

The garden will grow edible and wildlife-friendly plants without pesticides or artificial fertilisers.

Phase I: Initially, the site will consist of two raised beds for growing fruit and vegetables. These will be bordered by a variety of edible, wildlife-friendly and attractive low-maintenance plants (outlined in green on the site plan).

Sustainability infrastructure (for compost/water) and a bench will be added later.

This will be gradually expanded over time to a size of approximately 250 square metres (outlined in red on the site plan).

Sopwell residents will be invited to help care for the plants, and to pick them for eating when they are ready. Monthly maintenance and teaching sessions will take place at the garden in accordance with current coronavirus guidelines. Additionally, where Lockdown rules allow, occasional small community events may take place there.

Residents will be encouraged to walk or cycle to the garden so as not to cause traffic and parking issues.

We are committed to working with all local residents to ensure that the garden enhances both the area and our community’s wellbeing. Two similar projects in the city centre are very popular with local residents.

Find Out More

Thank you if you have shown interest in the garden so far. If you would like to get involved, would like more information, or if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns, please email us on GrowSopwell@gmail.com and we will get back to you. You may also contact Peggy Sharp, SADC Community Engagement Officer, Equalities and Grants Community Services (Preferably by email:  Peggy.Sharp@stalbans.gov.uk or telephone: 01727 819340). We really hope that you can support and enjoy the community garden and we look forward to meeting you at the site in the future. You can find out more about our group and projects on our website and social media channels


Donate your produce to the local Foodbank

Image credit: K Swindells

The Foodbank donations box is now out at the stall on Leyland Avenue every Saturday until Tuesday.

Please consider popping a little something from your harvests in to help ensure Sopwell residents in need get some fresh produce each week.

There are clean punnets and hand sanitiser available.

Located on a driveway at the end of Leyland Avenue.

Please follow coronavirus guidelines and walk/cycle if you are able to.

Grow Community – Sopwell AGM: Tuesday 28th September 2021 at St Julian’s

Grow Community – Sopwell invites you to our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 28th September 2021 at St Julian’s Hall, Abbots Avenue, AL1 2HY from 7pm.

We’ll be presenting highlights of our Annual Report, summarising the amazing journey that we have made so far and what we are planning for the next 12 months. There will also be a spot of Communi-Tea!

Thank you for all you do, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Open Food Gardens: Come And Visit This Sunday

Find out more about Grow Community – Sopwell’s community garden and our other projects at our Open Food Gardens event 10.30am to 12.30pm this Sunday morning (11th July). See what we’ve achieved so far and what are plans are. There will be cake!

Find us at the end of Berners Drive, next to the railway crossing and play area.

Please walk, cycle or use public transport if you are able to.

Find out more about Sustainable St Albans’ Open Food Gardens event here.


Our first drop-in Communi-Tea is Tuesday 15th June 7-8.30pm.

You are all warmly welcomed to drop-in to the Berners Drive Community Garden for Communi-Tea! Come and have a cuppa and a chat, and let us show you round, answer your #growyourownfood and wildlife gardening questions, meet new folks and old friends.

You are also welcome to bring a bit of rainwater for the veg beds if you can!

We’re hosting Communi-Tea on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month in summer between 7pm and 8.30pm.

Please note:

Please adhere to social distancing until guidance is updated.

Bring your own cuppa.

Strictly no alcohol.

We are limited to 30 on the site at the moment.