Higham Ferrers community garden celebrated in new heritage film

The Duchy Barn Garden was transformed during lockdown

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 7:00 am

A community garden that took shape during lockdown has now been captured on film to celebrate the efforts of volunteers who took part in its transformation.

Footage of the recently opened Duchy Barn Garden in the historic heart of Higham Ferrers located alongside the 15th Century Chichele College will soon be available on social media and YouTube.

And it is hoped there is also the chance that the film, commissioned by Higham Ferrers Tourism, could be aired on one of the country’s popular TV gardening shows.

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Filming takes place in the garden

Organiser and Higham Ferrers Tourism committee member, Carol Fitzgerald, said: “We would love to show the world exactly what can be done by a variety of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers.

“The film is a tribute to all the people who gave their time, money, skills and gifts to turn an idea into a fascinating reality and the perfect social haven for years to come.”

The film, by Gareth Hughes of HGA Studios in Northampton, was shot this month as part of the Nene Valley Festival using a grant from the festival organisers.

Previously a strip of land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster the garden is sandwiched between the side of Chichele College and a row of nearby barns used by local community charities.

Busy in the Duchy Garden, Higham Ferrers

Starting in November 2019, volunteers from the local Co-op food store started clearing what was a derelict and overgrown, messy, muddy site.

Seeing the potential of the site, Carol then applied for funds and grants to transform the space into a showpiece community garden with walkways, wheelchair-friendly paths, an arch and seating.

Involved in the project, the Higham Ferrers Archaeology and Research Society (HiFARS) was called in, unearthing hidden cobblestones, incorporated into the design.

A group of five volunteers - sticking to safe distancing rules - turned out in all types of weather to plant, weed and plant out the flower and vegetable gardens.

Filming takes place in the Duchy Barn Garden

Adding a colourful 'cottage garden' border near the entrance colour and the wildlife were priorities for the team.

Volunteer Ann Osborn said: "You can’t do what you would do at your garden at home. While we have to make the garden tidy, we also have to keep things like nettles, for instance, as the bees and butterflies need them."

As the movie camera recorded the action, members of the Gateway Club, a charity for adults with learning difficulties who use the garden as a meeting venue, became stars.

Viewers will be able to see member Tom Williams check out an apple tree that he had planted last year. The group feature tidying the pumpkin patch, tying up sunflowers, harvesting raspberries and placing a hedgehog box in the wildlife area under giant sycamore trees containing bird and bat boxes.

The Duchy Barn Garden