Westmacott Allotments creates new community Rainbow Garden

When Tony Jobling from Newburn in Newcastle was made secretary of Westmacott Allotments in 2022, he knew right away what he wanted to do.

A life-long gardener, Tony wanted to attract more diversity to the allotments by promoting the benefits of gardening and spending time with nature to a wider audience.

Creating a Rainbow Garden

Tony had heard about ‘Rainbow Gardens’ – a community garden open to people of all ages and backgrounds – and wanted to explore the possibility of creating one. Thanks to a conversation with our Fundraising Manager, Urban Green Newcastle was able to work with Tony and the allotment committee to submit a fundraising application to The National Lottery. In August of 2022, Tony received the news his application had been successful and Westmacott Allotments was awarded a grant so it could create its Rainbow Garden.

With the support of his committee, Tony worked with a local contractor to transform an unused allotment plot into a new community Rainbow Garden.

Tony said: “Gardening, particularly growing fruit and vegetables, is often seen as something you do later in life, which is often true, but I really wanted to inspire all members of our community to get involved, regardless of age.

“That’s where the idea of creating a Rainbow Garden came from and it’s definitely a long term project. It’s not about filling allotments, in fact we have no vacancies on our site at the moment. We wanted to create a space where people of all ages and backgrounds from our local community could come and learn about gardening by actively getting involved, initially in a small way.”

Involving the local community

Close by to Westmacott Allotments is Newburn Manor Primary School. Tony contacted them to let them know about the new Rainbow Garden and received a reply straight away.

“John Vyle, a teacher at Newburn Manor Primary School was very keen on bringing some children to the Rainbow Garden and working with me and other committee members on some projects,” said Tony.

“It’s not something any of us had done before, but we were very excited about working with the young people to spark their interest in gardening.”

In May 2023 pupils from Newburn Manor Primary School visited the Rainbow Garden for the first time, and with Tony’s help, planted various vegetable seedlings into some of the newly composted planters.

Tony said: “The excitement and interest the young people had was great to see, and they had a lot of fun learning about the plants and how to make them grow.

“Their energy on the day was infectious and they had lots of questions.”

John Vyle from Newburn Manor Primary School said: “The children really enjoy learning about how to grow plants and seeing the seeds grow. When we visited the Rainbow Garden at Westmacott Allotments our pupils got to sample some rhubarb, something many of them hadn’t done. It was also the first time they got to see how rhubarb grows too.

“Providing children with opportunities to sample home grown produce is important to foster an understanding of where our food comes from. Newburn Manor would like to extend their gratitude to the Rainbow Garden for opportunities such as these.”

Opening the Rainbow Garden to more community groups

Tony and the committee at Westmacott Allotments are happy to talk to other local community groups regarding the Rainbow Garden in the coming months. He added, “The Rainbow Garden isn’t exclusively for young people, we’d like to hear from a wide range of diverse community groups.

“Whilst we can’t accommodate volume growing, we do have a limited number of raised planters people can access and enjoy.”

If you would like to find out more, please contact Tony Jobling, secretary of Westmacott Allotments, by emailing tony.jobling@talktalk.net

You can find out more about the allotment sites managed by Urban Green Newcastle here.