Posts tagged ‘public spaces’

October 26, 2011

Secret London Garden #8: Forest Farm Peace Garden, Hainault

by growingpeople

 

For lovely Naomi’s birthday we took a trip to the Forest Farm Peace Garden on Hazelbrouck Gardens in Hainault – so far East London that it’s technically Essex. The nine mile cycle to get there from Hackney quickly turned in to fifteen after getting lost a dozen times – but we did find a nice apple tree on the way, somewhere inside the Roding Valley.

This garden, built on an abandoned site is sumptuous – part allotment, part community garden with an eclectic mix of users (and hence an eclectic range of crops) – it is also deceptively large and feels self-contained somehow – as if you could spend days here and always have something to do. Don’t be put off by their website (or lack of) – it’s a truly inspiring (and beautiful) place.

When we visited, on an apocalyptic grey Sunday in October, the garden was open for the Abundance Open Day. An enormous apple harvest had produced the most delicious, dark brown, thick apple nectar I have ever tasted and was being sold for next to nothing along with piles of the apples themselves, chutneys, pumpkin curry, potato stew and clear East London honey, courtesy of Andy Casson who keeps bees on the site.

The open days are held fairly regularly so keep an eye on the website or join the mailing list to be kept informed.

 

 

July 22, 2011

Secret London Garden #5: The King’s Cross Skip Garden, Pancras Road

by growingpeople

“After the Olympic Park, this is the biggest building site in London”, says Paul Richens, the King’s Cross Skip Garden‘s enthusiastic and wonderfully knowledgeable gardener who shows me around – which is what makes the choice of location for this growing space so remarkable. The garden is located right inside the Kings Cross Central development, home to Eurostar, the new underground station, the nearly-finished University of the Arts campus and future-home to dozens of new office buildings and flats, the whole lot scheduled for completion by 2020. It is, as the name suggests, entirely constructed in a series of recycled skips, and designed to be a travelling garden, hoisted up and moved to new sites around the development as building work progresses.

Building work is in fact due to start at the garden’s current location on Pancras Road in the coming weeks, and it will shortly be re-housed at the other end of the building site on York Way. It will be interesting to see how its new location changes the feel of the space, which is heavily influenced by the juxtaposition of the station’s Gothic architecture, the Eurostar terminal’s metal and glass cladding, and the rubble of the building site, all visible from the garden and defining its very nature. With another 8 years to go before the site’s completion, there’s a real question mark over how, and more specifically, where, this garden may go next and what that will mean for its development and preservation.

Paul explains the garden’s design to me: each skip represents an element of a full-blown garden, so there is a poly-tunnel skip, an orchard skip, a root skip and so on, all powered by what he’s called the Green Engine – the skip housing an impressive wormery and huge tufts of Bocking 14 Comfrey, the organic gardener’s secret weapon when it comes to mulching and nourishing the earth. The skips aren’t just filled with earth, but instead contain wooden beds and a set of stairs down the centre of each one, so that the student gardeners who come along to help Paul maintain the site have easy access to all areas of the growing space.  Educational workshops and talks take place in the garden’s “bio-dome”, the cosy tent space at the rear of the garden.

each skip contains one ton of soil, arranged in beds and accessed through a set of stairs

(left) Paul at work (right) the Green Engine

(left) the Orchard skip (right) the Eurostar terminal overshadows the garden

(left) tumbling alpine strawberries mark their territory (right) the view from the educational tent

The project is an initiative of Global Generation, an award-winning organisation that provides young people with opportunities to get involved in environmental and sustainable projects, under the themes of “I, We and the Planet”, and has been heavily supported by the Guardian, Camden Council, Capital Growth and Big Lottery.

July 9, 2011

Secret London garden #4: Dalston Roof Park, Ashwin Street

by growingpeople

Initiated by the wonderful Bootstrap company, the development trust responsible for the funding of a multitude of local creative and social enterprises since 1977,  the Dalston Roof Park sits on top of the company’s Print House HQ .

The Roof Park is part food-growing project (in which local residents can participate), part astro turfed summer hangout and part cultural space, its summer program packed with film screenings, live music and poetry readings, complete with a pop-up bar serving cocktails, cider and other refreshing beverages.

Become a “Friend of the Dalston Roof Park”  (free and open to all) to get access to the Park at any time – you just need to fill out a form on Bootstrap‘s website.

The Roof Garden’s fourth-floor view of Dalston Lane’s mix and match approach to architecture


the re-purposed beach hut serves as pop-up bar on summer nights from 4pm

rocking the astro turf

June 1, 2011

Secret London garden #3: St. Mary’s Secret Garden, Pearson Street

by growingpeople

It’s very difficult to photograph St. Mary’s Secret Garden in a way that gives an accurate representation of what this place is all about. Sensory garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, vegetables and woodland all meet here to create this unique horticultural project which serves as both community space (local residents have keys) and therapeutic garden, welcoming adults with mental health issues, terminal illness, and physical and learning disabilities to help maintain the site. Tucked away behind the Hoxton end of Kingsland Road, this is another of those beautifully still spaces in which it’s easy to forget that you are minutes from the creeping traffic of Old Street and Hackney Road.

The sheer quantity of the planting here is overwhelming – and the garden’s layout so full of curves and hidden pockets – which is why my photographs cannot begin to do the space justice. However much time I spend here, I will continue to be surprised by previously unnoticed little chunks of space (or a sink, suitcase or walking boot) with something fantastic growing in it. The garden offers a full program of courses and events, and is reliant on the work of its volunteers.

(above) A re-imagined chest of drawers, a boot, a toilet (or three), a washing machine drum and a baby’s car seat all serve as planters at St. Mary’s Secret Garden.


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May 25, 2011

Food maps and other things

by growingpeople

I’m a big fan of maps, and I’m lucky to be married(ish) to someone who draws them for a living. Reda has taught me much about the medium’s potential for analysis and presentation and together we are always on the look out for innovative ways of representing space and the information it holds.

With sustainable living and food growing being the issues “du jour”, there seems to be no end to the out pour of creativity which merges design and all things “green”, or which begs us to re-imagine the landscape we inhabit. The maps below are an assortment of some of my favourites.

Artist Ceri Buck’s Invisible Food map was commissioned and produced by Artangel Interaction with support from the National Lottery. It details the location of wild food growing on the Loughborough Estate in Brixton, South London.

Mikey Tomkins draws our attention to the vast amount of unused, potential food growing space in his “Edible Map of South Hackney”. Click here for the proper, interactive version.

These hand-coloured images were produced back in 2009 for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe). Concrete, tarmac, cement and brick have been removed, leaving only the green – gardens, parks and waterways.

Stephen Walter‘s hand drawn maps are possibly the best thing I’ve seen in recent years. The Island (2008), 140cm x 200cm, depicts the 33 London boroughs as a collection of supermarkets, pubs, CCTV cameras, clichés, secret goings on and hidden gems. It’s the kind of piece which will always offer something new, however many times you’ve seen it, and I urge you to explore it in full here.

Global meat imports

Global meat exports

Global fruit imports

Global fruit exports

worldmapper features nearly 700 maps, re-sized to present a range of startling information on subjects ranging from house prices to voting rights.

And finally…

This map of Hackney and Homerton from 1827 shows St. John’s Church, Well Street Common, the odd building and a whole load of fields. Morning Lane, Homerton Row and Paradise Row are unchanged, while Grove Road seems to have shifted South before it replaced Grove Street.

April 13, 2011

Holiday ideas for kids (free and local!)

by growingpeople

Stuck for ideas on what to do with your kids this Easter?

Aside from the usual egg-decorating and treasure hunts going on around the capital this Easter holiday, there are several more unusual activities taking place that have me wishing I were a little bit younger or that my 6-month old were just a  little bit older…

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden opened last year but seems to have blossomed this year into something truly remarkable. Sandwiched between the new Dalston Junction Overground station and the Kingsland Shopping Centre, it’s a little oasis of greenery in an otherwise decidedly urban area of Hackney. The volunteer gardening sessions take place every Saturday morning, but over the Easter holidays, the garden is putting on a huge range of free activities and workshops for children aged 5 to 12, including Scarecrow-making, poetry, garden den design and how to make “little windmills to help keep the birds away from all our new vegetable seedlings”. I’m so curious about that last one.

Tucked alongside the London Overground railway line, meters from Shoreditch High street on the Hackney and City of London borders, Spitalfields City Farm is another pocket of paradise in the city.  The farm’s Easter Play scheme runs from the 18th -21st April for kids aged 8 to 13 and includes gardening, horse riding, feeding and caring for the farm’s many animals, plus an offsite visit to the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. See here for the full details and timetable.

The Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road is running several workshops including Turkish Tapestry weaving, Tea-leaf reading, and storytelling for children aged 3 to 5, 5 to 8, 8 and above and 11 and above. See here for full details.

Kentish Town City Farm is welcoming children aged 8 and above to muck in and help out at the farm over the Easter holidays.  There are also a few very reasonably priced workshops (£4 maximum), including pottery-making, singing and art for under 5s and the opportunity to help build a working clay oven for the farm.

The Museum of London is running Victorian Pharmacy workshops in which kids can explore the herbs and spices used in Victorian medicine, as well as design and make their own herbal cabinet to take home. Sessions are running for 12.30 to 2.30 on the 19th, 20th and 21st of April.

November 12, 2010

Starters

by growingpeople

I recently heard about a project going on in Todmorden in West Yorkshire, where the residents have been using every possible bit of the town’s vacant public spaces to grow food.

Incredible Edible Todmorden is an inspiring example of what can happen when a community comes together and proves that not having a garden doesn’t have to stop you from setting up a patch (or several!). Residents have been growing food on the sides of roads, at the train station, under the railway bridge, in a supermarket car park (but don’t tell the Lidl bosses), outside the police station, at a housing estate and even in the town’s graveyard! They’ve put together this interactive map which shows the full scale of their planting. And what scale! 500 (count them) fruit trees from apples and plums to morello cherries in a town of just 10,000 people.

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