Forest Gate Community Garden
Monday 1st May 2023
A busy weekend for the Garden, beginning with a plant sale on Saturday, with the Garden having plenty of visitors. Then, on Bank Holiday Monday, we had a stall at the Green Fair in Forest Lane Park. I was on the Forest Gate Festival stall, which severely limited what I saw of the Garden’s activities. The following account comes from Myanah and Fiona.
Fiona organised two activities for children, painting their names on wooden discs and bracelet making, both meeting with enthusiasm. We also had compost, pots and sunflower seeds for smaller children to plant and take home. With the smallest children, the most popular activity was digging around in the compost wheelbarrow.
Fiona said, ‘It was a really lovely event. Lots of different families who I haven’t met before and others who hadn’t been for a while. It was good to be able to update them on events coming up and about the family activities. I really hope it happens again as it’s a great opportunity to celebrate all that is going on around E7.’
For adults, we gave away vegetable seeds, compost and pots to encourage people to grow their own vegetables at home, part of our Grow Your Own project funded by London Catalyst.
We asked people to make a pledge by writing on a post-it notes what else they could do to mitigate climate change, other than what they were already doing. We had lots of pledges, ranging from insulate my house front wall to not buying water in plastic bottles. This was part of our Sow and Grow project funded by OurSpace whose remit is addressing climate change.
Many people had not visited the Community Garden, so we gave out information and told them about next Monday’s Big Help Out event at Earlham Bridge. Hopefully, we will get some new volunteers.
The fair is the first Newham Green Fair, funded this year by the Forest Gate & Maryland Community Assembly, with the hope it can be the start for many more. There were over 60 stalls, with an estimated 1500 visitors throughout the day. There was music from local groups, workshops, and speakers including Global Justice Now and War on Want, while Greenpeace ran a workshop. The rain held off, and the general reaction was: why haven’t we done this before?
Well done, the organisers and volunteers of our first Green Fair.
Spring has sprung in the garden with flowering and new leaf. The pond is alive with tadpoles, munching their way to froghood. Also in the pond, if you look closely, there are tiny water boatmen which will grow to adult size by midsummer. The iris leaves are rising like swords out of the water, yellow and green striped. They will flower at the end of the month, and likely we’ll see husks of dragonflies on them, but we’re unlikely to see the dragonflies emerging, as they slough off the husk at first light these lengthening mornings, and have flown before we get there, leaving just the shell, like an abandoned mummy case.
The hawthorn is in bloom, aptly called the May tree as this is its flowering month. There are patches of wild garlic around the garden (aka three-cornered leek), so like bluebells in all but colour. The white cherry tree blossom has gone but the pink cherry is still in bloom, a canopy with a candyfloss topping. A strong wind and it will be gone. The petals on the paving are like confetti after a wedding.
The chives in Sophie’s memorial bed are in bloom. You get your money’s worth with chives, the pink clover-like blooms in spring and onion-flavoured leaves for the rest of the year, fine in salads and sandwiches. Nearby, in the Fothergill bed, there is a single foxglove, close to flowering.
The sycamore tree is in flower; the green dangling blooms are the precursor to the helicopters we’ll get in Autumn. It’s easy to miss the flowers, almost hidden in the leaves, green on green.
And a round of applause, to end this blog, for the Green Fair. We need such events to reinforce our green habits, and to get politicians to take notice and to go green themselves.