17th June 2011
Near the beginning of the month, urban regeneration charity Groundwork London, Marks and Spencers and the London Wildlife Trust formally opened View Tube Grow, a temporary garden in East London’s Greenway located along the canal next to the 2012 Olympic site. The garden, funded by Marks and Spencer’s food carrier bag charge as part of the Greener Living Spaces scheme, will operate as a social enterprise and is designed to provide both local people and visitors to the Olympic site with a relaxing place to learn about gardening, healthy living and the area’s local wildlife.
The project is something of interest to myself and those around me, all of the people in my home work at the View Tube’s Counter Cafe which is benefiting from the salad vegetables and herbs grown by Groundwork’s volunteers under the guidance of gardener-in-chief Clare Hillman. Their visitors can enjoy freshly picked food cultivated by local hands and see the effect that the sustainable work is having upon the area which had fallen into disrepair prior to the Game’s regeneration of Hackney, Newham, Bow and Stratford.
Community gardens offer a unique opportunity for people to discover and develop green-fingered skills. This is especially significant when one is living in a very concrete environment. The nearest green land to my home is neighbouring Victoria Park and I doubt the park keepers are particularly keen on local residents attending to their flowerbeds with trowels and secateurs in hand.
I visited community gardens in Newcastle, Barrow-in-Furness and Coventry for the Building Community project. Each time I could see how the garden offered its volunteers more than a crop of spring leaves and thyme, it provided a meeting ground for all members of the community to integrate, create friendships and feel a sense of pride in their local area. This was always something I missed upon returning to Hackney which on the one hand boasts a more integrated and communicative community than some other parts of London, however was lacking in accessible green space for people to get involved with.
The east London area is changing for the better, the Olympics have kick started the regeneration of the wasteland surrounding the sites and it’s encouraging that the regeneration is taking place in both employment opportunities and creating social and environmental spaces. Something which can be left for the community once the spectators have left and the residents can build upon.
Groundwork have a press release on the launch, they are sociable and can be found on Twitter and Facebook. London Wildlife Trust is on both Twitter and Facebook. The View Tube itself is also on Twitter and on Facebook.