Brighton citizens turn guerilla gardeners

May 2009: Residents in the Lewes Road area of Brighton have reclaimed a derelict plot and are turning it into a community garden. The project is entirely run by volunteers and supported by donations of soil, plants, and turfing. The plot, formerly a petrol station, is privately owned but has been derelict for over four years.

Digging. Photo © Josh Jones

I spent one Sunday working on the garden and saw dozens and dozens of people come and help out, donate materials, or just offer their thanks. The volunteers, who live within the locality, seem to be of all ages and walks of life. On the day, we re-turfed land, created plant features from used car tires, painted signs and decorations, and erected a marquee for food and drink. I was warmed by the simple willingness to help out that every individual shared, and the collective determination to make the garden successful.

Turfing. Photo © Josh Jones
Drilling holes in the tyres, to bind together and make large plant containers. Photo © Josh Jones

‘There’s something pleasant about the symbolism of turning a petrol station into a garden,’ says Duncan, one of the residents to start the project. ‘And it’s wonderful to see how people have responded. It’s as though everyone was waiting for something like this to happen.’

Painting together. Photo © Josh Jones

As the sun went down, the gardeners put away tools and sat on the grass to chat and relax. Food and drink was shared as children showed their inexhaustible energy by continuing to run around. The garden will host a work session and evening party at the first Sunday of every month, but Duncan reckons these will only be the start. ‘I can see people wanting to come here every weekend. Maybe every day.’


8 thoughts on “Brighton citizens turn guerilla gardeners”

  1. I live just over the road and when i saw the garden i was really pleased to see it being used for something positive that will bring people and the community together.

    Hope to visit it soon!

  2. Hello josh
    Hope you can make it to the garden this sunday and see how much it has
    advanced we have been working extremely hard for the past 2 weeks and many
    new things have popped up. I love your pictures and would like to use them to make a
    I support lewes community garden badge and stickers. I would like to use the big planters as the logo for the badges and hope you can make it and get a good shot that i can later modify on photoshop
    Thanks for the pics
    best wishes
    guerilla gardening gab

  3. Johnny, Paul and Gabriel – thanks to all for your comments.

    Gabriel, I hope to return this Sunday if possible, but if I’m not there I’m sure you can borrow another’s photographic abilities. :)

    Best wishes to all.

  4. Hi Guys

    How do I get in touch with you as regards featuring this project in Permaculture Magazine. The photographs are wonderful too. How do I get in touch with Anochka Lincroft who was involved with starting the garden?

    Thank you

    Permaculture Magazine

  5. I love the concept of your garden. Many years ago, I used to live in the area. Currently, my son is living close to you as a student at Sussex University studying Anthropology. Best of wishes for this and any other local project.
    I have some lovely children’s books, which could be given away one per child and then maybe brought back to swap at a later date. I would like to believe dealers would not have the chance to buy these books.
    Am I being reasonable? I do have a few which might be welcomed for adult use again as give away one per person.

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