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A plant in the foreground and vegetable beds in the middl ground, with the garden's gate in the background

Community outreach through gardening in Streatham

A Streatham neighbourhood is using gardening to come together and reach out to marginalised groups in its community.

Railside Community Garden’s committee has led initiatives such as collaborating with a homeless shelter and inviting refugees to visit the garden.

Volunteers use the space to grow fruit and vegetables, which they have donated to food banks during the pandemic.

Several rows of vegetable beds with a large variety of plants growing in them.
GREEN: a wide variety of plants are grown in the garden.

“We welcome anybody,” said committee member Amanda Waite, 61, who focuses on community outreach for the garden.

Waite added: “Community is something I am so passionate about because I know how much it can change people’s lives.

“I am just so grateful that I live here.

“I would not want to live anywhere else.”

Waite said that the garden, which was founded in 2018, became a space where people came to be outside safely during the pandemic.

Among their visitors were refugees, who did not have gardens or access to their own outdoor space.

Railside Community Garden has also hosted events, including the showing of an animated film illustrating the concept of home in a collaboration with a homeless shelter.

Waite said she would also like to see school classes visit the garden for an outdoor learning experience.

Railside Community Garden has received visits from local councillors and MP for Streatham Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

The registered charity is focused on diversity and accessibility, Waite explained.

Work is ongoing to level the previously disused land’s uneven ground and pave it, she said, adding that the committee wishes to make the patch wheelchair-accessible.

The garden has several vegetable beds, as well as space to grow flowers, herbs, and fruit trees.

Railside Community Garden’s committee has also set up street planters near the entrance to the patch, from which anyone can pick herbs and kale.

A street planter with some herbs growing inside and a sign reading: 'Please water me'
WATER ME: The street planters rely on volunteers to look after them.

Other produce they have grown so far includes pumpkins, squashes, tomatoes and spinach.

The garden is also home to a family of foxes.

The current facilities are a kitchen and toilet, as well as a bunker-like tunnel connecting the main open-air patch to a smaller one on the other side of the street.

A large undergound room with a number of small tables and chairs grouped around the centre.
PASSAGE: The tunnel is used as an indoor space for meetings and storage

Railside Community Garden run socially-distanced volunteer sessions every Saturday from 11am to 1pm.

The garden is a patch of land bordering a railway line between Gleneldon Road and Wellfield Road in Streatham, SW16.

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