Sunday, 23 August 2009

Dirty hands, happy faces

Stroud Green candidates Anna Bragga, Sarah Cope and Pete McAskie attended a ‘guerilla gardening’ event on Tottenham Lane. A neglected piece of land, supposedly one that the council should’ve been tending, is in the process of being transformed into a mini oasis of colour and scents.

We met the woman behind this excellent venture, Bethany Wells, and spent several hours with a group of volunteers. We swept up debris, dug over the soil and started planting donated plants such as geraniums. We enjoyed cakes, art, and homemade lemonade, not to mention the great community spirit!

The idea is that anyone who wants to can come along to the plot, which is next to the police station on Tottenham Lane, and do a bit of gardening whenever the fancy takes them. Bethany explained that rather than wait for the council to do something, she decided to take action and sort out the land herself. It’s a good attitude to have.

Earlier this year, together with a group of residents on my estate in Highgate, I cleared a disused garden and planted vegetables, fruit and flowers. We are now enjoying the fruit of our labour, with carrots, onions, tomatoes, beans and potatoes in abundance!

The guerrilla gardening movement is an interesting one. Since reading Richard Reynold’s excellent book ‘On Guerilla Gardening’ earlier this year, I can’t go past a disused plot, flower bed or tree pit without imagining it either blooming or providing food for local people. There are health, environmental and community benefits to this kind of action – it needs to be encouraged!