This month I spoke to Theo Pike, Chairman of the Wandle trust.
I met up with Theo during one of the trust’s monthly Wandle cleansing sessions. Over fifty local volunteers were working hard to haul all sorts of rubbish including shopping trolleys and scooters out of the river. Here’s a selection of some of the junk they removed.
In previous City Bumpkin podcasts, I’ve spoken to container gardener Penelope Bennett, guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds, and the project manager of Deen City Farm, Ben Cheetham. Each podcast features an interview with someone pioneering a green initiative in London. It will be considerably easier for me to find such people from now on, as Nick and Mark’s Project Dirt provides a hub for such activities, bringing environmental projects and people together.
I was amazed to discover Deen City Farm just down the road from my house last year, and have been keen to find out more about it ever since.
It’s a riding school as well as a farm, with some lovely ‘growing gardens’. The site used to be used as a dumping ground, so the existing soil is contaminated. However they have cleverly got round this by using raised beds, and other planters such as shopping trolleys and old baths.
In addition to the growing gardens, the farm also has a fair amount of livestock, including an aviary, small animals enclosure, and more traditional breeds.
Ben Cheetham is the project manager for Deen City Farm. He was kind enough to invite me to the farm for an interview for another Big Smoke, Green Living podcast. (Flighty – this one is one cup of tea and two biscuits long I think).
This is Richard Reynold’s original guerrilla garden. It’s not actually his, it belongs to the tower block he lives in. Richard cleared it of dead plants, litter and rubbish in 2004, replanted it, and has been looking after it ever since.
It is just 2×2 metres – even smaller than the Penelope Bennett’s window-box allotment (the subject of the first BSGL podcast), yet for Richard it was the first step on a journey which would see him developing neglected land all over London, cultivating a forum for other guerrilla gardeners around the world, now several thousand strong, and being invited to create a garden for this year’s Hampton Court Flower Show.
I met up with Richard for a pot of tea in his flat above this little patch to find out more. He started off by telling me how he became a guerrilla gardener.