What Will the Harvest Be? is a new kind of garden.
artists Karen Guthrie &
Nina Pope as a horticultural and social experiment. The project
invites anyone to participate in the communal growing and
harvesting of vegetables and flowers.
The garden occupies a 2000 sq meter urban site in East London, protected from development by English Heritage due to its mediaeval monastic and Victorian ruins. The local Newham area - in a state of immanent change and growth - provides an inspiring backdrop, bringing in new transport links, new residents and commuters, and in time the 2012 Olympic visitors and competitors. Historically this echoes the hub of travellers, commerce, debate and food production that the Cistercian Abbey would have been and the idea of returning the land to production has been very influential on the project.
Later influences such as wartime 'Dig for Victory' allotments
and the early 20th century Newham 'squatters', the 'Plaistow
Landgrabbers' also inspired the artists. This group of unemployed
men (pictured above) squatted a nearby piece of empty land to prove
that the unemployed did in fact want to work. They called their
plot 'The Triangle Camp' and this directly inspired the shape of
the raised beds at Abbey Gardens, the slogan painted on the wall
behind their camp provided the project name - What Will The Harvest
The contemporary garden design centers on formal raised beds arranged in a flag-like layout. The design is informed by the practical requirements of vegetable-growing, but its scale and style also evokes the Edwardian heyday of the English civic park, as well as honouring the Landgrabbers 'Triangle Camp'. A dense network of paths throughout the beds enables access for gardeners and visitors and the entire site is visible from the adjacent road.
Free garden club sessions take place from March to the end of October three times a week, and the site is open every day for visitors - basically if the gate is open then you are welcome to go in and look round. Rather than people claiming individual plots, the idea is to experiment with treating the Garden as one shared resource and to distribute the produce amongst the regular gardeners as well as through an honesty stall on site.
If you want to get involved in gardening on the site or for further information contact us here.
Regular visitors are encouraged to join the Friends of Abbey Gardens. For
further details and free membership email mail 'at'
Abbey Gardens is situated opposite Baker's Row, London E15 3NF
Nearest transport West Ham / Stratford station then 10 - 15 mins walk
What Will The Harvest Be? is a Somewhere project by Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope initiated by the Friends of Abbey Gardens and commissioned by Newham Council through Modus Operandi.
The project has been developed with the support and vision of the Friends of Abbey Gardens (FOAG) and funding from the London Development Agency, Arts Council London & Newham Councillors Local Fund. The initial stage of the project was supported by the DLR art programme.
FOAG and the artists would like to really thank Chiltern Seeds who provided almost all of the seeds used for the first year of the garden.
Thanks to Newham Archives & Local Studies Library for use of the Plaistow Landgrabbers image