BUXTON SERPENTINE: From derelict council plant nursery to lively gardening hub

Steve Taylor and Joe Dugdale in the greenhouse at the former municipal nursery at the Serpentine
Steve Taylor and Joe Dugdale in the greenhouse at the former municipal nursery at the Serpentine
  • Volunteers transforming a derelict council plant nursery in Buxton
  • Serpentine project aims to create a lively gardening hub for the community
  • People will be able to grow their own fruit and vegetables
  • Cafe/restaurant and food education form part of long-term vision
  • Appeal for local businesses to sponsor the project

In an era of climate change, fossil fuel depletion, economic hardship, and chemical-pumped junk-food – it feels like it could be the perfect time to start growing your own food.

Instead of harvesting the aisles of the local supermarket – you could be harvesting self-grown fruit and vegetables. And rather than digging your fork into a grimy microwave meal, you could be turning spuds for slice of the ‘good life’. It’s beautiful, romantic, and idealistic.

How about realistic, though? Many people don’t have the time, space, or knowledge to start such a project.

But, if you’re in Buxton, all this is about to change.

This Spring will see the launch of the Serpentine Community Farm project, following years of volunteer work to reinstate a derelict council plant nursery as a lively gardening hub – open to anybody and everybody that wants to get involved.

The idea was born in 2012 when the plot – set on an area of land to the west of the Pavilion Gardens – was about to be sold by High Peak Borough Council for housing.

Steve Taylor and Joe Dugdale by the greenhouse at the former municipal nursery at the Serpentine

Steve Taylor and Joe Dugdale by the greenhouse at the former municipal nursery at the Serpentine

Following a public outcry, Transition Buxton put together an application for the project and secured the plot’s greener future.

Much work took place in the years since. But within weeks, the first few seeds will be planted.

Janine Morris, project leader, said: “We are so excited to finally get this project off the ground, especially after all the time, effort and work everybody has put in.

“But there’s still so much left to do. We’ve got to repair the greenhouse, build new beds to plant in – there’s lots to keep us busy.”

Eventually, Janine would like to get to a stage where there is a cafe, kitchen, and restaurant on site.

She said: “To begin with people will be able to come to us and get practical knowledge and experience planting, maintaining, and harvesting an array of fruit and vegetables.

“In the future, though, we would are aiming to teach people the full process – from seed to your dinner plate.”

Once the nursery is up and running, the main aim is to establish a teaching programme in association with the University of Derby, local schools and colleges.

Janine said: “We hope to eventually provide courses on food education to the community. This would include such ideas as growing, maintenance, pickling, preserving, wine-making, and much more.”

But for this pioneering community project to work, volunteers still need a helping hand. Janine is desperately urging local businesses to sponsor the project – or donate much-needed supplies of soil and wood – as well as more volunteers to roll-up their sleeves and help out.

Janine said: “We really need more help to bring this hub to life. It’s exciting work and will be a true asset to the town.”

If you think you can help – no matter how big or small the contribution may be – call Janine on 07979 888033.