COMMUNITY groups are to be invited to develop part of the grounds of an arts centre for an inclusive gardening related project. 

The area hasn’t been used since the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020 when the Greenfingers service that provided horticultural opportunities for adults with learning disabilities suspended its activities. 

At that time around 20 people were attending for a couple of days a week but Monmouthshire County Council said its disability services, including My Day, My Life which Greenfingers was a part of, are now focused on enabling people to develop and pursue their own interests and social connections in a more individualised way. 

Greenfingers was set up in 2007 as an enterprise opportunity for people with learning disabilities and to develop skills in gardening and engage in activities that could help with employment as well as carrying out maintenance and grass cutting at community gardens, particularly Linda Vista Garden, Bailey Park and Castle Meadows in Abergavenny. 

The Greenfingers base also made reindeer and wreaths for Christmas, growing and selling vegetables and supporting the community’s food coop. 

The 662 square metre site, which is less than a quarter of an acre, has a main building, a shed and two poly-tunnels. A report for the council cabinet said it “needs some attention”. 

Green Party cabinet member Cllr Ian Chandler, who has responsibility for social services, said: “This is a very positive inclusive development and located in the same grounds as My Day, My Life base will be, and for the whole community.” 

He said it would be a stipulation of any group or project using the site that it be inclusive and offer opportunities that benefit the whole community, including those receiving support through My Day, My Life

Labour councillor for Llanfoist and Govilon Ben Callard, who will be consulted on which group the site should be transferred to as he is responsible for resources, said he welcomed the plan: “I use the Melville with my children quite often and this area of the garden has looked a little neglected for the last few years.” 

Council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby said Abergavenny Town Council is among the interested groups in what she called a “very exciting proposal for the whole of Abergavenny”. 

The report said there has been interest from existing gardening groups, food growing/cooking groups and allotment groups. 

The Melville will also be consulted and the council will draw up a clear criteria on what it expects of interested groups.