TEN years ago, Barracks Lane Community Garden was a “dark, horrible and sad place”, with 26 dilapidated garages frequented by drug users.

That was before a handful of locals spent four years and £80,000 transforming it into a vibrant community garden.

The story of Barracks Lane is one of thousands in a global “hidden revolution”, according to a new book.

Stories of the Great Turning, which brings together 16 stories from the revolution, will be launched on Sunday at Barracks Lane.

Bristol-based co-operative publisher Vala sent out an open request for people to get in touch with their stories.

Annie Davy, who helped create the Barracks Lane garden, sent them her story and now it is the first chapter in the book.

She said: “It is wonderful to have this place where you can hear children laughing, I think it has changed the way the community feels.

“The book is full of projects like this that are part of a hidden revolution.”

The forward of the book is written by American eco-philosopher Joanna Macy.

She said: “The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world, we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while.

“It is that we are beginning to wake up from a millennia-long sleep to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other.”

Mrs Davy’s story describes the struggle of five East Oxford residents to persuade potential funders to donate the £80,000 needed to remove six feet of concrete and arsenic-laced soil and persuade the city council to donate the land for next to nothing. Mrs Davy said: “They needed to be convinced it was needed and wanted by the local community, so we did surveys.

“At first, people were not convinced that a community garden would work.”

The group persevered and in 2007 the garden opened its doors to the first visitors.

She added: “The Oxford Mail came in at strategic places to help move things along.”

Now, the garden hosts regular parties, workshops for environmental groups, and recently a group of women built a tandoori oven there to cook naan breads.

Stories of the Great Turning has been edited by Peter Reason and Melanie Newman.

It costs £13.99 and is available from valapublishers.coop.

The free launch party, which runs from 11am to 2.30pm, is open to all.

  • Anyone interested in joining the garden should email barrackslanegarden@yahoo.co.uk