In this week’s column, Anna Clayton invites you to join Claver Hill (CH) in celebrating a decade of growing food and community in Lancaster.

On 27 August CH will open up its gates to celebrate ten years of community food growing on the Ridge in Lancaster. From 12:00 – 16:00, a range of tours, activities, and refreshments will be offered to the general public. This will be followed by a party for members, past and present. 

The ten years are also marked by a series of videos created by Gina Frausin:

They share stories from some of the project’s members and offer insights into how CH has evolved.

Claver Hill’s journey 

What once was a windswept field, whose soil appeared lifeless and often water logged, has transformed itself into a community-owned space that supports a diversity of life.

CH’s first members arrived on site in late 2013 and were mainly made up of enthusiastic food growers. Rock removal, windbreak planting and polytunnel building were some of their first activities. A Scarecrow Festival was also hosted, where seed bombing and old-fashioned seed drills were used to scatter green manure seeds across the site – helping to build the land’s fertility.

Spring 2014 marked the start of Claver’s first growing season. It saw the creation of Trash to Treasure – a herb garden created from people’s unwanted items. It also marked the start of Spud Club, a community grown horticulture project. What started out as 29 no-dig vegetable beds has now expanded into 70+ beds that are cared for by 40 regular Spud Club members. The harvest is shared amongst members and then with local community groups, including Eggcup and the Ridge community centre. As the years passed, a range of other projects started coming to the site.

Claver Hill & the community

Lancaster Seed Library started to share skills around seed saving. A tree nursery was built to raise young fruit trees and to teach fruit tree grafting and coppicing skills. As the fruit harvest increased, people started making jams, chutneys and cider to share and sell. Global Link started work days to offer an outdoor activity for the refugee and asylum seeker community; Sewing Cafe Lancaster set up a Natural Dyes project; local beekeepers set up bee hives on site. During the pandemic, CH continued growing with safety measures in place and it became a lifeline for many who did not have a garden, or who lived alone. A place of sanctuary. 

Find out more at the open day and on CH’s website:

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