Seb Woods from social enterprise Urban Growth – who support all Lambeth Council residents ‘edible living’ food growing projects on estates – and Mary Walwyn of the Tenants’ Association explained the Melbourne Mews project.
Stop the space being spoiled
Mary said: “We’re only 16 houses but we formed a residents association because we were desperate with the fly-tipping and commuter parking. The idea is that making the space more attractive makes people less likely to spoil it.”
Beds of sleepers
Seb continues the story: “Residents have been campaigning to get raised beds put in and planted. They’d drawn up a plan for the Normandy Road cul-de-sac for raised beds made of railway sleepers. The residents had funding for some soil and plants and we topped it up with grant funding.”
Mary explains: “We were inspired by the planters in Cowley Road and – especially – Van Gogh Walk. Residents drew up the plan to fit the odd shape of the entrance. I’ve been collecting plants for three years while we’ve applied for funding. I took half a dozen cuttings from a lovely hebe that was growing at the bus stop on Brixton Road. A former resident gave us a cherry tree. When Seb and his team from Urban Growth came we had a big planting day.
Community pulls together
“It’s completely pulled our little community together. I discovered lots of dead keen gardeners in this street. We now have a positive achievement to build on at TRA meetings, so more people come. Passers-by ask ‘what’s that plant?’ so that starts a friendly conversation with the wider community. People sit on the planters to chat to neighbours.“
Greening the space
Seb agrees: “It’s interesting how gardens can get people out and talking together. The area needs more green to work in a holistic sense. Like a lot of London, there’s a lot of brick there. It’s a residential area but it’s designed around cars, with a lot of impermeable surfaces – which discourages community and social life.” Next steps are plans for more planters along the wall to the children’s centre, making sure it’s still accessible for 999 vehicles.
For more information
Urban Growth Learning Gardens is a social enterprise that improves Londoners’ well-being by collaborating with them to create & maintain beautiful, biodiverse spaces. See their news and information pages