25th Sep, 2020

Warwickshire community gardener creates free little-green-roof library

Catherine Thompson 14th Sep, 2020 Updated: 15th Sep, 2020

FLOWERS are not the only thing blooming in a Stratford community garden.

Not only has green-fingered Anita Chaplin created a lilliputian library for passersby in Bishopton, the cabinet – which formerly housed a hi-fi system – has its very own green roof.

The library at the ‘Growing Together Community Garden’, contains free books, covering topics from nature to crafts and psychology, for community members to borrow or to keep at their leisure.

Anita, along with gardener Ruth Eccleston, heads up the garden project, which is among activities lead by social enterprise organisation Team Springboard, to get young people involved in the community. As well as flowers, the team also grows vegetables and herbs which locals are permitted to take as they need.

During lockdown, while Ruth was forced to self-isolate, Anita began thinking of more creative ways to engage with the community from a distance.

She came up with the idea for the library after discovering Own Books – a scheme providing books for people to set-up ‘little fee libraries’.

After rain damaged the books in the original box provided by the scheme, Anita set about upcycling an old hi-fi cabinet to create her green roof library.

She explained: “Instead of a conventional roof, we decided to do a green living roof, as it’s more quirky and unusual. Green roofs are good for the environment as they can create more green spaces in urban areas. I recycled some thick plastic bags and used them as a liner on the roof and folded down and stapled them in place. Then I just put turf on top, with some pockets of compost where I planted flowers.

“It’s already aroused quite a bit of curiosity in the neighbourhood, and locals have been offering to dig out some of their books that they don’t want.”

Anita also wants to extend the sharing scheme to include plants and seeds.

She added: “I’m hoping it will also be used for seed swapping, and as a place for plant sharing too.

“Last week I put out a couple of plants myself, to start the ball rolling and they’ve already disappeared. Seeds can go inside the cupboard, but plants should be put outside it, obviously. If seeds are as difficult to buy next year (as they were sometimes this year) then seed saving and swapping could be really important. Part of community building is to encourage more local resilience to the changes that can happen as a result of something like a pandemic. Sharing things is a good way to start that.”

All are welcome to the Baker Avenue garden which is partly funded by Orbit Homes and Stratford District Council.

Search Team Springboard CIC on Facebook for more information.

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