A reflective farewell and invitation to celebrate two years of growing together

This month I will be biding farewell to Pembroke House as I am moving onto a boat in East London.

Me in the garden halfway me - May 2011

There will be a farewell party on 17th January from 8pm at Pembroke House and I would LOVE to see you there! Friends and family welcome too!

We are currently recruiting for another community garden coordinator to live in the residency (please share the link with anyone you think might be interested!) and until I have handed over my role to the new recruit I will still be involved with the garden for the next month or so.

Whilst I am excited about embarking on my new life on a boat I will sorely miss Pembroke House with its dynamic mix of people and activities. I have laughed, cried, and learnt a lot of valuable lessons whilst living here. I would thus like to take this opportunity to reflect on both I and Pembroke Pocket Garden have matured since we  began growing food in this little pocket of space in the heart of Walworth.

In the beginning, the garden was just an idea and the space a blank canvas.

A blank Canvas
A blank Canvas

And look how far we have come since then:

Identifying the plants
Identifying the plan

We have grown lots of food and herbs in that time – this is just a snapshot of part of one crop!

We grew all of this food ourselves!
We grew all of this food ourselves!

We have shared lots of home grown and cooked food over communal lunches after our regular morning gardening sessions

One of our community lunches
One of our community lunches

The lunch club for older people which meets every Thursday in Pembroke House has been given unlimited access to the garden’s produce, which it has made use of on many occasions.

We have even dappled in enterprise and managed to sell some produce to a local pop restaurant, providing enough salad to feed 80 people!

In July 2012 we helped to organise and host the Wonderful Walworth festival which saw over 100 local people come together to celebrate wonderful activities going on in this neighbourhood.

Over 100 volunteers have volunteered together in the space, ranging from the age of 3-91, and from areas as diverse as the United States to the Ivory Coast, and Camden to the Old Kent Road!

We have hosted several volunteer days involving 40 young local people and 20 corporate volunteers.

How many accountants does it take to transform a garden?
How many accountants does it take to transform a garden?

We have had two greenhouses blow over, (this one, and this one!) and are having another one in the process of being built. 

Our skeleton greenhouse.
Our skeleton greenhouse.

All we need is a few hundred bottles and some people power to make it look like this:

Recycled Bottle Greenhouse

And these are just a few of the achievements we have had over the years – you can read more in our blog archives which contains 57 stories! 

On a more personal note, I feel like I have grown alongside the plants. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learnt is that being part of a community garden is as much about growing connections with people as it is about growing food. A particular highlight for me has been recognizing, harnessing and sharing skills within the group, from David’s carpentry and Fitsum’s cooking skills, to Shelagh’s ability to organise our seed database and Julicia’s ability to revamp our blog.

So in a nutshell, the last two years have been a fruit (and veg) ful time time in the community garden and I look forward to celebrating this with you next Thursday the 17th January from 8pm in Pembroke House. Children, gardeners, wellies – you name it, are all welcome!

And if you can’t make it to that, please do pop by our next gardening session on Sat 26th January from 11.30am-2pm.

Oh and for those of you who are interested, this is the boat I will be living on in East London. My new floating home

The beginnings of a floating garden

DO come and visit! And if you are interested in learning more about what it is like to live on a boat I will be blogging about the experience here.

Who said gardeners rest in winter? These ones are BUSY!

Just before Christmas, Pembroke Pocket Garden was visited by an industrious troop of gardeners, who put their hands to work preparing for spring.

The first stage compost heap was near overflowing so Hannah and Daniel bravely emptied it into the second stage heap. This took lots of shovelling, stamina and a fair amount of determination to override fear of worms!

Loving the worms in the compost heap!

2012-12-15 11.51.23Hannah and Daniel getting stuck into the compost.

Our youngest gardener, Ruthy, is never afraid to get her hands dirty, and helped us to weed away old dying plants and plant on some new herbs.

2012-12-15 12.16.41 Ruthy doesn't need gloves to weed!

Fitsum did a great job sieving the soil so that it was free of weeds and roots and ready for new plants.

Fitsum sieving the soil

Monika and Kevin made quick but careful work finishing the trellis on the shelter too. Imagine how lovely it will look with french beans growing up it in spring!

Kevin gets his hammer at the ready

Monika finishing off the trellis,

Despite it being mid december we had great weather apart from a sudden shower in the middle during which we huddled under the shelter before heading inside Pembroke House for mulled apple and mince pies.

Huddling under the shelter during the shower

So hard working were the gardeners that we stayed an extra 30 minutes to wash some boxes clean so that they are ready for local people to take and use to grow their own in. If you would like some – please do get in touch by contacting pembrokecommunitygarden@gmail.com or calling 07871 955 394!

Collecting boxes for washing

Our next gardening session will be on Sat Jan 26th from 11.30am – 2pm. Please do pop along  – we always welcome new people!