By Catherine Graham
Wandle Park Community Garden will be sowing the seeds of future success next weekend when the park’s annual garden party is staged on Saturday, July 27.
The garden party, in its second year since the revamped town centre park was re-opened, will feature acoustic music by Freedom of Expression, storytelling in a yurt, poetry from Poets Anonymous and a barbecue by the park café. Volunteers from the community garden will run seed-sowing activities for children, as well as face painting, hopefully allowing adults to spend time looking around the garden and learning more about this community-based project.
Since February, the volunteers, led by Thomas Smith, the council’s volunteer and learning officer for the park, and supported by Croydon Transition Town and Friends of Wandle Park, have come together on Sunday mornings to work on nine raised beds on what used to be a simple patch of grass.
With much-needed help from The Conservation Volunteers organisations, the community gardeners have grown potatoes, spring onions, beans and peas, as well as flowers such as poppies, cornflowers and nasturtiums.
The volunteers meet every Sunday morning from 10am to work together sowing, watering, weeding, and harvesting the never-ending supply of vegetables and salad leaves, as well as chatting over a welcome cup of tea.
The reasons why people volunteer at the community garden vary.
For some, it is ideal for those who live in flats or apartments and who do not have enough space to garden. Others have small gardens or just a couple of containers but have no idea how to begin to grow food in them.
For a few volunteers, it is a great way to get out in the open when they have been stuck at a desk all week, and to exercise and to feel happier and healthier. There is nothing like digging to relieve the strains and stresses of everyday life. Volunteers are made up of those who have no gardening skills or knowledge to those who are more experienced but the great joy of working together on this project is that, with sharing tips, ideas, and skills, everyone is learning together and the sense of achievement cannot be underestimated.
Whatever the motive of volunteers, at the heart of it all is a desire to be a part of something, being proactive instead of waiting for somebody else to do it, with the aim of bringing the local community together. It is much about growing a community as it is about growing food and flowers. Adults and children alike are encouraged to come and join in, as well as local schools, as the garden can be used as an outdoor learning resource as well as giving children with no garden access to food-growing to increase their understanding about where food comes from.
Now with the additional support of EcoLocal, a Carshalton-based charity, the group is learning a range of gardening and food growing skills as well as developing friendships and team working skills.
As weeks go by, more people stop to chat to see what is going on and many have joined in themselves. It does not matter if you are an occasional helper or a regular the aim of the garden is that it is for the community run by the community, with everyone very welcome to join in.
Coming to Croydon
- South Norwood Arts Festival, July 5-20
- Love Norbury launch event, July 19
- Boom Band plays the Half Moon Putney, July 19
- Summer butterfly walk, Farthing Down, July 20
- Picnic in Grangewood Park, July 20
- David Lean Cinema: Pantani: Accidental Death of a Cyclist, July 21
- David Lean Cinema: Tracks, July 24
- Lives Not Knives beer fund-raiser, July 24
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- CODA’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wandle Park, Jul 30-Aug 2
- David Lean Cinema: Locke, July 31
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Aug 2
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Aug 4
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 6
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 13
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Aug 16
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 20
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 27
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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