helping out on the roof

I’d normally run a mile from a ‘family fun day’, but last Saturday I set aside my prejudices and lent a hand at my community roof garden for their annual Chelsea Fringe event.

I’m actually a keyholder for the garden now, and on the friendly-and-informal committee, but my gardening still hasn’t progressed much beyond appreciating everything green and growing and wishing I knew more plant names. I have written a poem that addresses this, which is yet to be released into the world. But I genuinely love the idea of our community garden, and it is a lovely haven between the tower blocks. Events such as the fun day are important for reaching out to the local community and spreading the word that the garden is there for everyone to enjoy.

A call went out first thing for help with food preparation, as our designated cook had fallen ill. So I spent the first hour our so chopping apples, bananas, grapes and strawberries for a mega fruit salad – and managed to avoid self-inflicted knife wounds. Then, up to the garden, where there were stalls set out promoting local groups, an opportunity for people to contribute to a decorated sign for the garden, a snail hunt with a prize for whoever caught the most snails, Capoeira workshops on the central lawn – and the garden itself, looking splendid in the June sunshine.

Doddington & Rollo Community Roof Garden in full bloom
Doddington & Rollo Community Roof Garden in full bloom

For much of the afternoon I kept an eye on the refreshments table, dispensing fruit squash, water, teas and coffees. And hot chocolate. A charmingly confident 8 year old instructed me in her preferred method  of making hot chocolate, and from then on I had a steady queue of children requesting this beverage.

There was a barbecue lunch with plenty of healthy salads, lots of adults milling around chatting, even more kids running around and indubitably having fun. And local theatre group fanSHEN brought their interactive show The Apple Cart to the garden. From the bits I saw, in between serving hot chocolate to thirsty pre-teens, the fanSHEN troupe had many of the children enthralled, taking part in breakout activities and pedalling away on a sort of stationary unicycle to power the music.

fanSHEN bring The Apple Cart to the roof
fanSHEN bring The Apple Cart to the roof

Officially, the event ended at 4:00. But when I left at 4:30, after a patrol round the garden with a bin bag collecting wind-strewn plastic cups and paper plates, there were still lots of people making the most of the warm weather and the peaceful surroundings. That was very rewarding to see. Thanks to all the volunteers who made it such a successful day.

All snails were successfully rehomed
Snail hunt – all snails were successfully rehomed
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