Banbury pensioner transforms green space into community garden – but he needs help

East Close Community Garden, Banbury. Bob Bathe. NNL-190514-142742009
East Close Community Garden, Banbury. Bob Bathe. NNL-190514-142742009

A pensioner has transformed a patch of grass outside his house into a community garden in a year – but he needs help to keep it going.

Bob Bathe has built a shed, tables and chairs and a ring of planters on East Close out of timber, old panels and whatever else people donate.

East Close Community Garden, Banbury. Bob Bathe. NNL-190514-142859009

East Close Community Garden, Banbury. Bob Bathe. NNL-190514-142859009

The 67-year-old has big plans for the project, with hopes to get a solar panel for electricity as well as involving the elderly, children and ex-convicts to help out.

But Bob knows he cannot do it all by himself forever so he has arranged an open day this weekend for anyone interested in getting involved.

“Ideally going forward I’d like to start a social enterprise for the upkeep of it so it’s not just a one-off, and I’d like it replicated as I know the value of it and what it costs,” he said.

After the death of a neighbour who campaigned for the nearby day centre to stay open, Bob was inspired to build something for the community to enjoy.

The former builder spends most of his time and state pension on the project, tending to the flowers and creating whatever is needed, such as benches and doors.

Bob says his fellow residents have been very supportive and use the garden, while a care home hopes to make the most of it too. Artists will be invited to decorate the outskirts as well as involving people with dementia and school children, to get them enjoying the outdoors.

“Before this was here all you could see was plastic bins everywhere, and I thought, ‘that’s a lovely way to get up in the morning!’ So I did this to cheer people up,” he said.

“A lot of people talk to me as I’m working but there’s a lot who don’t, and I can see the expressions on their faces and there’s no greater buzz than that. So I’d like it where there was a committee formed so I can move on and do something else.”

Bob thinks the space has a lot of potential, it could be used for workshops or parties, as well as gardening clubs and as a small allotment.

Anyone with suggestions or interest in getting involved with the scheme should come to the open garden from 11am to 2pm on Saturday.

For more information, call Bob on 07821 702113.