Still Growing, Reading's Squatted Community Garden

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Thu Aug 16 19:03:35 BST 2007

lots of lovely pix here too

Common Ground - Squatted Community Garden Still Growing, Still Resisting!

Gerrard Winstanley | 15.08.2007 
2nd Eviction Attempt Resisted, Injunction Broken Again, New Gardens on
the Horizon!

Common Ground - a squatted community garden in Katesgrove, Reading -
is still being enjoyed by the community and still growing, despite a
2nd attempt by the council to close the garden down and evict the

The council owned land, which backs onto several derelict buildings,
was occupied by nearby squatters and local activists in January this
year. They spent four months transforming a rubbish strewn junkyard
into a beautiful garden, relying on recycling, donations and
self-organisation to get the job done.

On May 19th the garden was opened to the community, despite the
Council obtaining an injunction making the opening BBQ and acoustic
music gig illegal. Nearly 200 people came through the garden, and all
were amazed at the difference. Since then, locals have been using the
garden regularly to relax and eat lunch in, or take the children to
the play area.

In June, the Council obtained an possesion order for the squatters
home and Common Ground. On 20th June, despite leaving their home, the
squatters, gardeners, activists and local residents teamed up to
resist the eviction of the garden, with a few residents being prepared
to break the law to continue occupying the land. Council
officials/bailiffs showed up, and pretty quickly retreated, leaving
everybody to enjoy another party.

In the last few weeks, the Council have unsuccessfully attempted a
second eviction. In late July, once again gardeners, neighbours and
activists mobilised to defend the garden from eviction, once again
defying the law and once again seeing Council officials retreating
empty handed. And last Sunday, despite intimidation as the Council
threatened unnamed organisers with jail, several people enjoyed a
community picnic and arts day in the garden, creating a brand new
mozaic pathway.

Maintaining the occupation of the land is not the only success of
Common Ground. In a badly thought out attempt to move the occupiers,
the Council offered two alternative sites. However, when the gardeners
refused them, the Council were obligated to offer them to the local
residents association. Individuals involved in Common Ground have met
with the residents association, and it is likely they will help the
residents to create a second and possibly third community garden for
the area, this time legally. Direct-action gets the goods!

Even better, Common Ground is apparently inspiring others to take
direct-action to improve their neighbourhoods. On the other side of a
Reading, a lady who had been refused permission from her housing
association to create a community garden on some of their derelict
land, has told people involved in Common Ground that she has now been
inspired to go ahead and do it anyway! Naturally, some Common Ground
gardeners will offer advice and assistance with this new project.

Common Ground is located through the alleyway, next to the ex-Womens
Information Centre in Silver Street, Katesgrove, Reading, 10 minutes
from the train station. Please email katesgrovegarden(AT)
for more information.

Resistance is fertile!

Gerrard Winstanley
- e-mail: katesgrovegarden(AT) 

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