Gerry Tisser is one of the most energetic members of Daubeney Fields Forever, a community group that is leading the charge to make Daubeney a natural “Park Neighbourhood”. In this update Gerry reflects on the 10 x Greener project and our third sprint weekend.
We planted in the rain and we planted in the sun at our 10x Greener event in May. The weather did not daunt us.
We’d been eyeing the forecast nervously all week. The risk of prolonged showers on the Saturday came and went but the morning itself dawned fine.
We set up a gazebo on the corner of Redwald Road and Daubeney Road for children to make little bug houses. And we laid out two lines of cut-up scaffold boards in the car park next to the community garden to turn into planters.
London artist Alan Biggs brought along 50 adorable wooden bug houses. He crafted square boxes, less than a ruler high, with a sloping roof and painted pale blue. The children loved filling them with short bamboo tubes for solitary bees to nest in – and planting sedum on the top. Sedum is a low-growing succulent plant with a shallow rooting system perfect for green roofs.
Meanwhile, dozens of us got busy in the car park with drills and screwdrivers to construct large wooden planters for residents’ front gardens. Volunteers from Friends of the Earth and Hackney Council joined in the fun. Janine came along from the Newham Steel Band to play steel pan melodies for our builders.
With the assembly line in full swing, we fired up BBQs in the community garden and grilled sausages, chicken and vegetarian food. Neighbours brought rolls and buns, prepared salad side dishes and shared beer and soft drinks. There was enough to feed all our hungry helpers.
Then the rain came – slowly, softly and persistently. But even the rain could not dampen the spirit of volunteers. They continued to build and fill boxes with compost, one by one. We captured the action with a time-lapse video. By the end of the day 100 new planters were ready for planting.
Planting up had to wait until Sunday. Early in the morning a small group of volunteers made their way to Columbia Road flower market to buy a van load of herbs, lavender and purple campanula.
With the plants and flowers delivered to the car park, another team of children and adults planted out the boxes. A BBC Natural History film crew weaved in and out to film the action for their Wild Metropolis programme. Strong scents of rosemary, thyme and lavender wafted in the air. The day stayed warm and sunny – as if to reward people for their persistence the day before.
Finally, the time came to send the planters into the neighbourhood. They got taken out by hand, wheelbarrow, trolley and van. In less than an hour planters had sprouted everywhere – on windowsills, front-walls and pavements. You can see them now as you walk round – sometimes on their own, occasionally in small architectural groups.
Something has changed on our streets. A shift has taken place.