Growing for gold

  • 24
  • Sep

There might not be acres of open space in our patch of London – but the greenery we do have, we certainly make the most of. If you’ve got an idea for planting out a grey corner to create a green oasis, you can apply for funding through the council’s new Greener Together schemeOr, you can join in the fun of the annual Islington in Bloom gardening competition. The gardeners at Wedmore Estate are the proud winners of Best Community Garden, 2021. We popped down to see how they’ve continued to grow

Sue
I was involved in setting up the Gardeners of Wedmore in 2004. At the time, the garden only had some cherry trees, rose bushes, and grass.

A group of us thought it would be nice to do some work on it – that was 20 years ago. We now have a variety of plants, a greenhouse, a herb garden, and vegetable plots. We try to be environmentally conscious by avoiding weed killers and pesticides and using natural fertilisers. We also have a wormery, which turns kitchen and garden waste into compost, and recycling bins for veg waste.

The pandemic opened the garden up to many people on the estate who previously didn’t even know it existed. We have put on community and educational events, such as one for children on how to plant strawberries and sunflower seeds. It’s become a lovely space where children can play and adults can pick herbs for their cooking, relax, and socialise.

Matteo
My passion for gardening started when I was at uni. I moved to the Wedmore Estate five years ago and became involved in the gardening group almost immediately.

I was warmly welcomed and I’ve learnt a lot since. Sharing knowledge is a powerful aspect of community gardening. You give a lot, but you receive a lot. You start conversations with neighbours you may never meet otherwise. It’s like being part of a family.

Community gardening is a fantastic way to foster a connection between people and the earth. Sometimes it opens up conversations about sustainability, as some people are interested in reducing their carbon footprint or learning about composting.

I am grateful to the people who have remained involved over the years and created this habitat for insects, birds, and people, allowing them to connect.

Charles
I am the resident caretaker at Wedmore Estate. When I first moved here 14 years ago, I immediately knew that this garden was for me. I loved it. Gardening and being outdoors makes me feel great, whatever the weather. I grow potatoes, bonsai and moss, and I enjoy smelling all the plants and just being outdoors. We’ve really tried to bring people in, so it’s great to see more and more people getting involved.

If anyone is considering getting involved in a community garden, I would say to them: get some information, check out programmes such as Gardeners’ World, and take it from there. Come and chat to us – we won’t bite, unlike the venus fly trap!

Zoë
I have lived on the estate for 12 years. I run my own garden design and maintenance business, but I help out with community garden tasks when I can.

Everyone brings something to the table: I tend to focus on the weeding and pruning, and even helped build the new shed! Matteo knows lots about growing vegetables and loves to cook. Charles and Sue are all-rounders and work hard to make it a welcoming space.

For those who are unsure about gardening, my advice would be to just give it a go! If you have the enthusiasm and care about nature, you will find gardening immensely therapeutic and rewarding.

Apply by 29 April
Want to make lslington cleaner, greener, and healthier? The council wants residents to shape their local area by submitting proposals for greening initiatives. Successful entrants will receive support and training. Find out more on the Greener Together website.

Islington in Bloom is back! Visit the event page to find out more and enter the competition.

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