Tunnel vision on Clapham Common
When I first came to London in the 80s I lived in a tiny studio flat that had a south-facing balcony, which soon became a potted paradise of plants. However, my landlord was less impressed and insisted I remove them. From then on, I yearned for a garden of my own.
Three years ago I became involved with Bandstand Beds, a community food-growing project on Clapham Common. Throughout the summer we grow a variety of vegetables, these are harvested in the autumn and cooked up for a free feasting event.
The first I took part in was in the community hall on the Notre Dame Estate. It brought together a diverse group of residents and many of them had never met and chatted before, let alone shared a meal. It made me wonder just how many people feel isolated in their homes; especially if they live in flats and don’t even have a balcony.
In February 2014 I became chair of Bandstand Beds. Later in the year I discovered there was the possibility of developing a derelict part of Clapham Common’s green waste depot, known as ‘the dump’, into a community garden. It seemed like a brilliant idea.
Now, with financial and in kind support from Lambeth Council, and more than £9,000 from fundraising efforts by Bandstand Beds, the idea of a food-growing hub on Clapham Common has become a reality.
We have already installed a polytunnel, which will provide a resource for year-round plant propagation. Local residents, community groups and schools will be able to grow plants to take to their gardens or community growing spaces.
Thirty years ago, I longed for a garden of my own. The Bandstand Beds Clapham Common Growing space is a garden we can all share.