community gardener

Kate Poland – Our Postcode Gardener!

A short blog post by Kate Poland, our new community Postcode Gardener!

Why I want to do this.

My first attempt at community gardening did not go well. An old Jaguar had been left to rust for years in my street and, as there was no sign of it moving, I thought I’d plant it up, help green up our street and allow nature, as it does, to claim it. What I didn’t realise was that there was someone living in the car. And they, quite understandably, didn’t want to be greened up.

My second go was on a swathe of land that I could see from my house — a sad, dog-and drunk-marred stretch of grass and brambles. This attempt at getting nature in its greater variety to take hold – with my neighbours – did work. We now have allotments, beehives, a pond (and frogs), a shed built from found materials, dye and herb beds as well as areas left for wildlife to do what it wants undisturbed.

The reason, I think, why I am compelled to grow things (or let things grow) is that it satisfies something quite deep within me and, I assume, all of us. A need to be in nature.

The last nearly two decades of has taught me a lot about plants and people; what both need to thrive, but probably most about myself. I think getting my allotment saved me from a period of gloomy introspection, isolation and inactivity. I know that my mental and physical health is so much richer for being outdoors and surrounded by (and looking after) nature. I could write a book about how nature has made my life so much better in so many ways – physically, mentally and socially to name just three. And conversely, how being in parts of London which lack greenery brings me down. A great revelation and joy is the act of observing nature doing its own thing. It’s flipping astounding watching a spider make a web, seeing the busy world of woodlice revealed under a log or the resilience of a ‘weed’ that has grown in a crack in the pavement. We can’t do that, though, if there’s no space for nature.

Our ancestors lived in and with nature. But it was sometimes hostile and
frightening; it hurt and often killed you. So we learnt to fight it and keep it at bay(with medicine, clean water, clothes, heating, cleaning products, paving and decking, hand-washing, weed-killer and so on). But we have continued to keep nature at bay when it no longer threatens us. We pave over our front gardens and tidy up, weed and mow, leaving nowhere for nature to survive. A big part of 10x Greener is to release nature from our human grip!

I’m so excited about this project. It’s a simple but powerful idea: individually we can do something small that will make a big difference for our community and the environment. When a lot of the time we feel powerless to change the world, we can all sow and look after a seed or allow nature to do its thing. We don’t need to wait for the government to change or something to be built in order to make a garden. That’s pretty empowering. And if we give nature a bit more space in our front gardens, balconies, pots and pavements, we all benefit from its ordinary awesomeness.

Meet Kate at our 10xGreener forum on Tuesday December 4th. Find out more here.