Charles Whitehead from TTT and Eleanor Brown from CARAS were excited to be invited to speak at the RHS annual conference for managers.
Our topic was ‘Community Change through Gardening’ which gave us the perfect platform for sharing our partnership work over the last year. Those of you who come to the CARAS office will have seen gradual changes to our outdoor space, from a litter strewn yard when we moved in to a place with benches perfect for a chat in the sunshine and plants brightening up the edges. All of the work has been done with volunteers from Transition Town Tooting who have given their time to come and work with our groups. They have helped our Saturday project build benches and colourful planters, worked with people at Family Activity Days to find out what their favourite plants are, and got creative with our limited space to try out innovative construction and planting ideas, like the strawberry wall in summer.
The activities opened up a whole array of opportunities and creativity that we hadn’t tapped into before: learning from people that they had expertise in planting and growing, and discussing the differences in how to grow beans in England versus the best way in Eritrea, sharing memories of people and places, being confident and proud of achievements, and gradually improving our site to the benefit of the whole community. Tooting Community garden have taken exciting ideas back to their plot too, growing teff, a grain that is a staple in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The work was supported by funding from SWSJ, and time and resources from the RHS, all of which we are very grateful for. We hope we can continue the work of this partnership with funding through the Aviva Community Grant, continuing to plant , build and brighten up our area, and starting to encourage more people to go and get stuck in at Tooting Community Garden too . To do that we need your votes, and your enthusiasm to spread the word!