A small group of volunteers, supported by Greenspace of Islington, initiated a community gardening project in Thornhill Gardens in 2017. The team now involves a large number of people, of all ages and expertise, who meet to garden on the last Sunday of each month, from 10am to 2pm (often until 4pm). It is a joy to see social groups and neighbours of all ages (the oldest is 91 years old), work together before enjoying a cup of tea and a toasted cheese sandwich (made in the little kitchen in the gardeners’ hut).
The range of volunteers’ skills has enabled us to offer a morning session once a week to a small group of young people to broaden their practical abilities. With their parents’/carers’ permission, they are safely directed by a skilful volunteer and there is always more than one adult present. A work area, removed from regular garden visitors, has been set up to ensure safe working practices, and protective clothing – masks, goggles, knee pads, etc – has been bought with donated funds. Three teenagers, who volunteered as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, have continued to volunteer.
Alejandro and Tom have been committed to the programme even in challenging weather and are now trusted team members. They:
began by using gardening tools, trench digging, carefully using the mulching machine and physical ground work;
undertook new tasks and were involved in choosing materials, managing tools, and measuring and placing a sturdy fence, made from reclaimed church rafters, to create a secure work area;
now use hand and power tools efficiently;
work as team members, ask questions and take instructions maturely;
are trusted to complete a task efficiently;
are able to adapt, mix, communicate and work with a wide range of local people, from toddlers to those in their 90s.
Top left, Evan laying the bricks for the entrance to the top lawn.
Left,mixing compost and sand into the flower beds.
Top, Dirk and Rob building a timber-lined woodchip path.
Above, Dirk, left, William and Jenny celebrating completing the sanding.