I’ve recently discovered a wonderful community garden less than 5 minutes’ walk from our flat. Yesterday, the first properly fine day after a long wet week, I dropped by for an hour armed with some onion sets kindly sent to us by Nick’s mother in Norfolk. I am a gardening novice, but the Doddington Community Roof Garden, located between two tower blocks, on the roof of a community and business centre, is a welcoming and tranquil place. It’s a great initiative by local residents to transform a neglected space into a flourishing community garden. Unlike allotments, there’s no waiting list, no rental, and no individual plots. If you want to get involved, you turn up, pick up a spade or fork, and get stuck in. The produce that’s grown is shared, and we’ve already sampled magnificent kale, rainbow chard, and freshly picked broad beans and peas. Yesterday, with helpful guidance from a couple of the more experienced gardeners, I got my hands dirty digging over a small patch of ground and planting three rows of the diddy onion bulbs. I’m already looking forward to making my vegetarian version of pissaladière with community-grown onions.
Then, after a quick VLT (vegemite, lettuce and tomato) sandwich back at home, I hurried along to Battersea Park Adventure Playground to help with the campaign to keep Wandsworth’s adventure playgrounds staffed. Wandsworth Council is proposing to sack all the staff from the borough’s three adventure playgrounds and then spend £500,000 replacing the equipment and converting the areas to unsupervised playgrounds. Around 60% of the borough’s residents live in flats with no access to outdoor play areas – apart from the public parks. It is such a short-sighted (cynical?) measure to cut the staff from these well-used and much valued playgrounds. The play leaders are vital for maintaining a safe and fun environment for local teenagers to hang out in – resolving disputes, keeping troublemakers at bay, providing first aid, and building self-confidence and a sense of responsibility. The local – and wider – community understands this, and in just a couple of hours we gathered more than 600 signatures for the petition in favour of retaining fully staffed adventure playgrounds. We were also leafleting to promote the rally opposing the proposed cuts on Wednesday 20th June from 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street, when the council will be deciding the future of this crucial service. People’s livelihoods, and the life-chances of local youngsters, are at stake. That’s definitely worth fighting for.