community gardening - the joys and challenges of growing together
In April, the last of Titchfield Gardeners' Club zoom meetings attended by over 30 members, was hosted by William Rallison a resident of Titchfield and a member of the TGC but also Head Community Gardener for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBK&C). After a career in heritage, he studied horticulture and through volunteering as a gardener at Chelsea Physic Garden he then took up gardening roles at Cressing Temple and Chiswick House.
He noted that our first interest in community gardening started with allotments in the 1760’s when councils tried to help the poorer community to grow their own food. Outside London allotments are now a common sight but RBK&C have insufficient green space for allotments. Instead, William has been involved in trying to get local communities to use underutilized space by providing the basic tools to get things started. Consultation with Network Rail, A&E departments, and local communities for releasing space, has transformed areas which previously suffered with fly tipping and vandalism, now benefitted from an improved community spirit and residents’ responsibility for their local area.
To start things off, planters, containers and raised beds are provided to the community and then guidance is given how to cultivate and maintain the space. Access to water is always the key issue regarding the location of the sites. These schemes have worked particularly well with organisations such as Mind and Halfway House, but Covid has created a set back and other areas such as Grenville, the interest has waned. But generally, he has been encouraged by the improved community spirit and health benefits and even reduced anxiety levels from these simple activities.
He is involved with various workshops and projects which are always ongoing involving children’s activities, wreath making competitions, window box workshops, street planting and creating a bee superhighway.
Turning to our local area he noted that we have started with some community schemes such as daffodil planting in Barry’s meadow and a proposed tree planting, but it also makes us think what else can be done to improve our community wellbeing.
Finally, he referred to various sites should we wish to develop any further ideas.
It is hoped that all future TGC meetings will be held in The Parish Rooms rather that by Zoom!