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Friswells Hill plot to become community garden

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An overgrown eyesore in a tight-knit neighbourhood is to be transformed into a community garden.

The plot on Friswells Hill in Pembroke, owned by the Ball family, has been handed over free for three years so that area residents can grow crops.

A massive excavator trundled up the lane of Nelson Bascome Jr Way just before 10am yesterday to start to clear trash and debris.

The plan was spearheaded by Michael Weeks, the MP for Pembroke East Central.

He highlighted patches of weeds littered with beer bottles and a rotting mattress and said the site had been blighted by “intermittent cases of untoward behaviour”.

Mr Weeks said: “These were ongoing concerns shared with me by the residents living in or passing by the area.”

Meetings for a plan to beautify the spot included community group Friswells Hill United.

He added the garden would bring the community together to grow produce and revive horticultural skills.

Shirlene Bascome, the widow of former PLP minister Nelson Bascome, who died in 2009, lives next door to the site and said it had become overrun with rats.

Ms Bascome added: “My heart is filled with joy to know it's going to be cleared off.”

She said she looked forward to helping to plant vegetables to share with the neighbourhood, which straddles the border with Devonshire.

Kim Ball, who agreed to hand over the land with her mother Mary Ball, said it was a proud moment.

Her grandmother, Marjorie Gurley Francis, bought the land after she moved to Bermuda from St Kitts & Nevis in the 1920s.

Unable to continue in her profession as a nurse, she supported her family by laundering clothes and growing bananas and vegetables on the property.

Ms Ball, also a nurse, said: “We had plans for this property. But it just didn't happen as soon as we would have liked.”

A home once stood on the hilltop land, which runs down to North Terrace, where Ms Ball remembered flying kites as a child.

Ms Ball said her mother had grown up there and added: “There's a lot of memories here. Good memories.”

She added that her grandmother would have been “very proud to know it's being used to help unify the community”.

Leroy Bean, the island's gang violence reduction co-ordinator, said it was “an excellent opportunity to build relationships”.

Mr Bean added: “It creates a bridge that's necessary if we're going to see some of this antisocial behaviour subdued.”

Neighbours watched as the Island Construction excavator started to clear the area.

Mr Weeks said the company had donated its services and that the Ministry of Public Works had waived dumping fees to dispose of rubble, trash and weeds.

He added: “Pembroke East Central is a great family-oriented community which has had its series of challenges over the years.”

Proud moment: Kim Ball stands by the Friswells Hill property bought and farmed by her grandmother, Marjorie Gurley Francis, an immigrant from St Kitts & Nevis. The overgrown patch will become a community vegetable garden (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Friswells Hill Garden: Pembroke East Central MP Michael Weeks, left, with Shirlene Bascome, neighbour of the allotment; gang counsellor pastor Leroy Bean, and Kim Ball, whose grandmother bought the property (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Grant Smith, of Island Construction, brings a 160 Excavator to bear on an overgrown plot of land at Friswells Hill (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)
Grant Smith, of Island Construction, brings a 160 Excavator to bear on an overgrown plot of land at Friswells Hill (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)
Grant Smith, of Island Construction, brings a 160 Excavator to bear on an overgrown plot of land at Friswells Hill (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)
An excavator sets to clearing a vacant lot owned by the Ball family on Nelson Bascome Jr Way in Pembroke, where the trunk of an old Bermuda cedar stands as one of the few remnants of its past as a homestead (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Kim Ball stands by the Friswells Hill property bought and farmed by her grandmother, Marjorie Gurley Francis, an immigrant from St Kitts. The overgrown allotment is temporarily becoming a vegetable garden for the community (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Kim Ball stands by the Friswells Hill property bought and farmed by her grandmother, Marjorie Gurley Francis, an immigrant from St Kitts. The overgrown allotment is temporarily becoming a vegetable garden for the community (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Big dig: Grant Smith, of Island Construction, swings into action in a 160 Excavator on an overgrown lot soon to become a community garden for Friswells Hill in Pembroke (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published July 24, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 24, 2020 at 8:51 am)

Friswells Hill plot to become community garden

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