Residents ‘share’ garden in Sidmouth

Green-fingered growers’ friendship has blossomed

A GREEN-fingered pair of Sidmouth couples saw their friendship grow thanks to a garden sharing scheme that sprouted from a seven year wait for an allotment in the town.

Mike and Katharine Clarke harvest a multitude of fruit and vegetables in Pat and Stella Beesley’s spacious back yard - and both families enjoy the produce.

They were put in touch by a gardening ‘matchmaker’ who hopes residents with large gardens will share their land with those in smaller properties.

But co-ordinator Jean Twibell says only two successful partnerships have been made in two years- and she’s considered giving up.

“We would never have met Pat and Stella and now we’ve gained two really good friends,” said Winslade Road resident Mike, 51.

Keen growers the Clarkes moved to Sidmouth three years ago but found a lack of garden space meant they could only grow produce in pots.

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“I was told there was a seven year wait for an allotment and then I met Jean at a renewable energy event,” said Mike.

“She introduced us to Pat and Stella and now we’re into our second season together.

“We’ve got five patches in a once unused bit of their garden, and grow vegetables and soft fruit ranging from runner beans, courgettes and asparagus to strawberries.

“It’s a fantastic thing and a crying shame more people aren’t doing it. I can’t commend it more. Not least we’ve gained two really good friends.

“We can’t be the only family in Sidmouth who are keen gardeners who haven’t got the space. And I’m sure there are plenty of people with honking great gardens which are too big to manage.”

Pat, 64, added: “Mike and Katharine are a lovely couple and it is a very good arrangement.”

Garden share co-ordinator Jean said the initiative came from a Vision Group for Sidmouth idea. She introduces interested residents to ensure they are suited to one another.

“I guess I’m a matchmaker for gardeners,” she said.

“The Beesleys and Clarkes is such a success - it would be lovely to have more like that,” she said.

“Sadly we haven’t had a big take up at all.

“We need more offers of gardens. There should be plenty of gardeners. People are a bit reluctant.”

Anyone interested in a garden share can contact Jean on (01395) 578689 or e-mail