Community Gardens. London Community Gardens

As I already told you in the Special Gardens around the world, and, although I’m in China right now, I still have things pending that I haven’t told you about Urban Nature in London and what I saw on my trip.

Harleyford Community Garden – London Sandra and I have already shown you some of the urban gardens that we saw in this great green city, such as the Walworth Garden Farm or the St. James Park Garden, but I still have to tell you about a type of Urban Agriculture that is very widespread in the cities of the United Kingdom (and also in others in the USA, Canada or China, such as Shanghai): the Community Gardens.

What are Community Gardens?

Community Gardens are community urban gardens, green spaces halfway between parks and community gardens.

Although they are usually located on public land granted by the councils or other local authorities, they are not exactly public parks. Why? Because they are not usually open all day (although well…in London many of the parks are not either) and because in general they are not maintained by public municipal services: their cleaning, maintenance, organization, etc. they are the responsibility of the groups of people who decide to participate and enjoy them. That is, they are self-managed, like the community urban gardenswhich we already talked about on occasion. Normally an assembly is formed that meets from time to time to discuss how to manage the place among all those who participate (cleaning, opening and closing hours, activities that can be scheduled, etc.)

They are not exactly community gardens either because, as you know, a garden by definition is a space where vegetables, fruit, etc. are grown for consumption. The Community Gardens are green spaces in the city, just like the urban gardens or Allotments that I told you about in the post Urban Gardens in London, but the cultivation of food is not the main activity; they are simply meeting and leisure spaces for people who want to relax and enjoy nature in the middle of the city.

In the Community Gardens, the focus is on promoting interest in gardening in the city and creating links between people. They are very important for the local development of neighborhoods and neighboring communities thanks to coexistence and, often, to the organization of training activities for employment or personal development.

Many other activities can also be carried out in them, such as growing food, visiting schools, organizing outdoor sports or children’s games, summer camps… Everything depends on the initiative of the people who participate in them.

Community Gardens in the UK

If you want to know more about community gardens, I recommend you visit the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, an association that promotes and supports the projects of many of the country’s community gardens and urban farms.

Harleyford Road Community Garden in London

As you may have already seen in the posts of the “Orchards around the world” category, we saw quite a few urban gardens in London, but we had not yet told you about any community garden. Well, the time has come!

The Harleyford Road Community Garden is located in the Kennington neighbourhood, not too far from the city centre, between the Vauxhall and Oval tube stations (light blue and black lines respectively).

Although it may seem to us that this Urban Naturation as a leisure activity and alternative for social welfare is something very recent, I already told you in the post of Urban Gardens in London that in the United Kingdom they have been putting it into practice for decades, and this is the perfect example.

More than 30 years ago, the residents of this neighborhood started this community garden, transforming an abandoned lot next to Harleyford Road into a garden with an orchard where they grew vegetables for their families’ consumption. Since then, this charming place has been maintained thanks to the work of the residents of the area; and a few years later, at the beginning of the 90s, they changed their use a little and stopped cultivating to use the space only as a leisure garden.

It is a very heterogeneous place, with a mixture of areas with wild nature (wildlife garden, as they say) and others that are a little more transformed: an area for children, a picnic area, ornamental areas, a pond with vegetation, a of composting, another of seedbeds... Here are some of the photos I took during my visit:

Two local women who frequent the Harleyford Community Garden enjoying tea in one of the picnic areas
composting area
Seedbed area

Well… and here’s what I can tell you about this community garden in London, if you want to know more you can take a look at its Facebook page. If you visit the city at a good time, stop by and browse a bit while you have an English tea, I was invited to one and it tasted delicious!

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