SIR: I am sure that many of your readers would be concerned to learn that Sherfield English has lost an important community project. The Children's Garden at Gilbert's Nursery has been closed!

In 2007 a group of volunteers started the gardens on a small scale, but due to community support it grew.

The shed was donated by Estate Agent, Nicholas Zorab; it was underpinned by gravel and sand from W.H Berry & Sons; the paving in front came from the Nursery; the polytunnel and plastic bottle greenhouse with monies from the Parish Council and Hampshire County Council; The plastic bottles (all 1900) were left by villagers; the fruit trees by Mr Ray Dixon. We dug a wildlife pond and the lining was given by The World of Water in Romsey. Many of the villagers gave their free labour and a smart sign was painted for us by Romsey's well known artist and sign-writer Rod Hoyle.

We had a lot of support from King John's Gardeners and TROG (The Romsey Organic Gardeners) members.

It would have been the fourteenth year that children would have come every Saturday from March till October from 10am till 12 noon.

Each child could have its own plot (roughly 1m square) subdivided into 9 plots. There they would learn successional sowing, patience and, of course, what is edible and what are weeds.

We had three compost bins: Current, Cooking and Ready for Use. The boys in particular loved digging out the crumbly soil. We planted a Willow Arbour with perennial sweetpeas climbing through it. We constructed a scarecrow and cascading window boxes out of a wooden pallet. We hatched moths and butterflies from pupae and/or chrysalises. We did pond dipping and stopped and started the fountain in the pond by covering the solar panel. A lady came once with a dead bat. The whole place was full of opportunities for exploring and learning. I shall never forget the big eyes when they tasted their own radishes and peas and carrots. In the polytunnel grew tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colours, peppers, aubergines, cucamelons and cucumbers. The produce was fairly divided between the children to take home to their parents. The children exhibited vegetables, flowers and imaginary tray gardens for the Fun Days.

Halfway through the session Mrs Helen Gilbert provided us with a welcome mug of tea and the children eagerly awaited their drink and piece of cake. Thank you, Helen.

Can something like this be transplanted to another site?

I live in hope.

Smita Kulkarni

(one of the founder members)