Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change (FOR TEN YEARS!)

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Growing Community across London - Part 2

Our previous blog post describes Growing Community Part 1 - and to recap in the last week of July our long-planned collaboration between Ravenstone School and Tooting Community Garden offered two interlinked local 'Growing Community in the Heart of the City' workshops as part of The Mayor of London's National Park City Festival

The common green thread running through both events was celebrating city growing and the outdoors, creating an environment which is good for ourselves, for the community and for nature.

Blog post Part 1 describes the Ravenstone School event on July 22.
Here we're sharing what we did together in the second of the two events, the Tooting Community Garden open day on July 28th.

The garden team of a dozen volunteers met early (no Sunday lie-ins) to put up signs, hang our TTT bunting, set up activities and then provide a warm welcome and an invitation to join in the day in any way people wished. We wanted to demonstrate that being outdoors together is accessible and enjoyable.

Over 80 people came along on a Sunday with an on-off forecast for rain. We decided to not put up gazebos, and we were all rewarded with a lovely afternoon.

The welcome table gave a focus for saying hello and having a chance to talk with visitors who either explored the garden, relaxed or joined one of our fun and practical activity workshops:

1. Creating vertical wall planters with Paul: sharing environmental, DIY, creativity and urban growing benefits.

2. Being guided by Sharon to select plants and re-purposed containers to take home - building growing skills and wellbeing.

3. Joining Jane's 'Drawn to Nature' drawing workshop: enjoying taking time to observe and be present, with wellbeing and drawing practice benefits.

4. Annie's creative workshops in the family zone: sharing benefits of creating together in unusual ways across generations or with people new to you and learning fun techniques to take home.

Feedback from visitors included:
'A lovely place, and lovely people' 'A lovely celebration of nature and community spirit' 'The day was beautiful, well thought-out and sustainable' 'A nice peaceful day and a great community feel' 'Loved the community feeling and how positive and welcoming everyone has been' 'What a lovely garden, and such friendly people. We'll be back'

Our own responses to the day?
It was very affirming for the Community Garden team to welcome so many people who enjoyed what we offered together. Sundays in the Garden are fun and informal, and it was a good challenge to do something different, facilitating an engaging and outward-looking day.
Plus, it was our 8th birthday as a garden project since being generously offered use of the land by Naseem Aboobaker.  

Many volunteers have opened the Garden space on over 400 Sundays. 
That's worth celebrating!

Thanks to all the volunteers: Amanda, Annie, Chuck, Deb, Jane, Kay, Keith, Paul, Ryan, Sharon & Tom. A big shout out to our new friends and qualified first aiders Alice & Charlie who joined us on the day to provide that cover - thankfully they had no cause to leap into action. Kudos to photographer Bryony Williams for images used here (plus more for another time) and to Kay and Chuck for other pictures in this blog.

Everyone is welcome to join us at the Community Garden every Sunday from 11:00 to 1:00 (sometimes later into the afternoon). No experience necessary and we share any updates or changes on our Tooting Community Garden Facebook and Instagram pages.

The annual Tooting Foodival - our twelfth! - is TTT's next big community event! It's taking place on Saturday 14th September and we hope to see you there - it's going to be great!

Growing Community across London - Part 1...

130 people joined us for 2 events during London National Park City Festival Week!

Our 2 linked workshops, called Growing Community in the Heart of Wandsworth, invited people to come and get their hands dirty learning how to make vertical planters, potting on, creating leaf pressings and loads more. They also created a lasting echo in both locations, read on to find out more...

The first event was at Ravenstone Primary School on Monday 22nd July. What struck me most about this day was that we had way more young people than adults and all the young people wanted to get active.
The cloth planters were made using a staple gun, here's Kate and Chuck in action. 
These four friends knew exactly what they were doing making cloth planters 
These guys loved moving muck and making a wee home for their plants.

A big element of our day was to give a workshop on making vertical planters. Why? To show what can be made with largely waste materials - pallets, any cloth, cardboard tubes from carpet shops and homemade compost. Paul Wilson gave a fantastic session on the pallet planters, encouraging people young and old to get involved.

Paul in action taking through the endless possibilities of a pallet

All planted up and ready to go!
Grandpa/son tackle the drill

The day also inspired a diverse range of volunteers who not only helped deliver the event, but also had time to catch up, share experiences and enjoy the day. HUGE thank you to Miranda, Tara, Paul and Paul, Sarah, Mary, Peter, Claire and Claire and Veronica.

Big up the Volunteer Team!
We were planting for community, for ourselves and for nature. At Ravenstone, the vertical planters for community will be used in a brand new Wild Place for Nature. This project, led by parent volunteers and quite literally digging up the asphalt down to the subsoil to build up new planting areas and provide much needed connection to nature for the 400 children at the school, not to mention parents, teachers and staff.

Everyone got to take a plant home and, of course, all the planting was good for nature.

Feedback, child-style... do we really hate plants??
Both events for part of a London wide National Park City Festival with events happening over 9 days and the announcement by Mayor Sadiq Khan of London being the world's first National Park City. Many more Cities across the World have their eyes on London and are exploring what National Park City status means for them. For us, its about advocacy for green and blue spaces in celebration for all that they give us. Its also about feeling part of a much bigger ecological and social system across London whenever we come and garden at home, at Ravenstone or at Tooting Community Garden. Its a fantastic response to the Climate Crisis, embracing imagination, communities and wonder in making London healthier, greener and wilder.

Blog 2 will be all about the linked workshop at Tooting Community Garden, keep those eyes peeled!

Follow London National Park City Foundation HERE
And their website HERE
Check out the National Park City Festival Website HERE