Aside

Look, No Locks!

28 Apr

Look, No Locks!

For over ten years Sustain have been conceptualising and promoting London as one big multi-cultural, intergenerational allotment.  We were lucky enough to have Ben Reynolds from the organisation as a guest speaker at Grow Sheffield’s AGM last night.

As we showed Ben around the St Mary’s hub where the AGM was held, he offered up a few words that could prove integral in keeping the growing space useful, occupied and productive in years to come.

‘Keep the space open.  It’s often the key to success.”

Increasingly you see community spaces fenced in, beds caged up and people kept out, because what’s more depressing than growing carrots if they’re going to get pulled?  Why put up wigwams and use nets, if they’re relentlessly and ruthlessly torn down for fun?

Honestly though?  All this stuff has been up for a month or so now and everything’s perfectly in place, aside from some petty vandalism by a squirrel.  The green is used as a recreational area constantly by young, old, richer, poorer – a whole cross section of the community – and everything remains basically untouched.

Here’s Why (We Think)

1.  Sessions are Open

Even if we’re providing a session that’s tailored to a particular group’s interests, we invite anyone around to join in.  There’s no exclusivity, the more the merrier.  In fact, one of our youngest community growers was found this way, the fantastic Levi who can often be seen biking round the Church.  Here he is planting the pak choi he grew from seed at home:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Art of Pottering

Most days of the week, someone’s around.  It might be some of the women checking out their work from Monday before their Friday English class, or John from The Lunch Club sowing some seed and having a look at whatis growng.  It’s not dead space, in fact, it’s beginning slowly to thrive in the hands of the Highfield community.

3. A Bit of Trust Goes A Long Way

When your security measures start to rival Alcatraz, you’re posing a challenge as much as providing protection. In contrast, by leaving things a bit vulnerable, you’re making an open statement that you’re not expecting vandalism.  This sort of positive thinking doesn’t always translate into reality, but it’s a lot less disheartening to have a few things go missing than to feel under attack.

So, this is an invitation to all Sheffielders.

Make use of the space!

Bring some food and lean against the beds, play some guitar with friends, water, weed, and have a cycle round to see what’s happening even if you can’t make sessions.

With long evenings and sunny days over summer, no doubt there’ll be set backs.  But for now we’re holding tight to the ethos above.  And in light of this, please, come visit us next week:

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Aside

Spuds in the Sun

28 Mar

The sun hit the Community Garden so fiercely this week that even in the cool of the evening the walls were still radiating heat.  We’ve been going to bed dreaming of gigantic pumpkins, cucumbers and courgettes.

The ‘Learn English, Grow Food’  on Monday had tripled as word of mouth spread.  We got some good English practice in (turns out that the word ‘occasionally’ is actually quite a hard word to explain, never mind memorise), but it was really wonderful to meet people from around the world who have very different growing experiences. Two of our Russian ladies taught us that they cut their potatoes vertically in half to double the crop, and apparently in Eritrea it’s pretty standard to grow corn in your backyard.

On a much more local level, one of our helpers for the day, Polly, offered to fill up the slug pubs as she lives around the corner.  Hopefully white wine will work as well as beer!

Just to finish off with a lovely photo, here’s Alix holding his toilet roll pak choi seed starter.  He’s doing a bit of plant babysitting on his windowsill while we get things rolling.

‘Learn English, Grow Food’ takes place every Monday at 1.30pm