The Triangle Community Garden was started in 2000 by a small group of Hitchin residents, keen to provide an open space that could be used creatively by the community. Once the site was found, and permission granted by North Herts District Council, open design workshops were held to decide what people wanted out of the Garden and what form the layout should take. Common themes emerged such as gardening organically, encouraging wildlife and the idea of the garden as somewhere peaceful, attractive and restorative.
The first five years saw the creation of many of the features originally planned including the pond, raised vegetable beds, the willow maze, and the central meeting space. Some of the features you can see at the Garden today have evolved through discussions at our public progress meetings, like the sensory garden, the orchard and the spiral earth mound. The gradual development of the Garden has been accompanied by a proliferation of wildlife, including frogs, newts, lizards, bees and butterflies.
Once the Garden was substantially laid out, we started to plan ways of extending its benefits more widely within the community, particularly towards disadvantaged groups. Inspired by community gardens such as Earthworks St Albans and the horticulture therapy charity Thrive, we started a pilot project providing gardening sessions for people with learning disabilities, Started in 2005, this was run by volunteers and aided by community care workers from local day centres.
In 2008 we set up the current Growing Ability social therapeutic horticulture project, run by a qualified horticulture therapist, and providing a structured programme based around the support needs, abilities and personal development aims of each individual. Its healthy living sister-project Growing Health followed in 2013.
In 2009 we discovered permaculture and hosted our first 'Introduction to Permaculture' course followed by a full Permaculture Design Course, run by Hannah Thorogood of Designed Visions. This introduced us to the three key ethics of permaculture: earth care, people care and fair shares, which we realised represented the essence of our work. The Garden became an accredited LAND project, one of a network of permaculture demonstration projects across the country. At round about this time we also acheived Registered Charity status.
In 2010 we were able to start using the newly-refurbished Pavilion as a base for our activities and in 2013 we began creating our Food Forest along the banks of the River Hiz.