Last year was tough for everyone, and as community gardeners we certainly faced some specific challenges. But at our last Walworth Community Gardening Network get-together at the end of 2020, we heard how during Covid our community gardens had provided a particularly vital and valuable resource for health and well-being in our communities throughout the pandemic.
Spirits were raised, and our strength and determination refreshed by the meeting. We heard about inspirational work from several of the Community Gardens in our network.
We heard about the incredible resilience at Kennington Park Rd TRA where Sandy, Chev, and others have had fantastic success growing pumpkins, peppers, beetroot, tomatoes, and using food as a way to bring people together. They also showed exemplary form with their Covid-19 risk assessments to keep everyone working safely when possible to do so.
We heard from Brandon TRA where a fantastic and productive walled garden has been coaxed from the dusty and neglected soil, producing tomatoes, beans, spinach and dahlias. Helene, a committed new volunteer, has been grappling with the best ways to compost, and is now sharing this learning with others.
We heard from the Fielding St Allotments where allotment holders turn out for communal clean-up day, working together (at a distance) to tidy up and improve the site.
We also heard about a potential new project starting on the Pasley estate and welcomed them as new network members.
And finally we heard from Christina Wheatley from Edible Rotherhithe at Surrey Square school, where a beautiful polytunnel for growing food (literally on top of the school kitchen) and some innovative protective crop covers (built by Peter Balazs from Tabard Growers) provide access for groups of children learning about growing healthy food.
In each case, as problems and questions were raised, the membership were able to offer a wide range of experience and ideas in dealing with common issues. Three of our gardens reported first-hand experience that human urine really does work to keep foxes away!
What it showed us was that, more than ever, the function of the Walworth Community Gardening Network is important; we provide a space where experienced community gardeners, and total beginners, can come together to share experiences and learn from each other.
We were reminded that several of the gardens in the network wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the support they had received from neighbouring gardens via this network.
2020 was a challenging year for the Walworth Community Gardening Network committee too, with several of our key members needing to step down or take extended breaks. At the recent meeting we paid tribute to retiring chair Sam, much missed Vince (get well soon, and hope to have you back with us soon) – and Carole Wright who we are very grateful to for stepping up over the summer to help out with coordination, as well as Debbie who we hope will be able to continue keeping us connected, inspired, and organised in 2021.
So despite all the challenges, we begin 2021 with hope and reinvigorated in purpose – and looking forward to the growing year ahead.
We look forward to seeing you all at our next wider Walworth Community Gardening Network meet-up on Wed February 24th, 7pm.
Wishing you successful growing in 2021!
In resilience and optimism,
The WCGN committee.