The Community Garden is one of the many highlights here at Gunnersbury, where we welcome members of the community every Wednesday morning to work together on a designated plot. Here's what happened on Wednesday, as told by our Head Gardener Chris Ellis
8.15am - Arrive to tidy up the Iron Age section of the timeline bed in preparation for the first school trip since the lockdown started. The children will be learning about Iron Age people, what they foraged, grew and ate, and how they hunted. Need to clear the weeds, particularly the nettles! Don't want the children to get stung.
8.45am - Tidy up the Anderson shelter so that the learning team can get their equipment out. The shelter has not been used for school trips for months!
9.30am – The learning team arrives to set up - there will be two school trips visiting today so they are having a busy day.
9.35am - Starting to prepare the tools for the garden volunteers and spreading out hand sanitizer. Need to get my head around the tasks for today.
9.40am - a visitor arrives who will be setting up a community garden in another London park – they want to find out how the garden was designed, how we run the sessions and how we use the community garden space to serve our local community.
9.45am - Our first volunteer arrives. He is always early. He likes telling me about his week as he gets ready. He loves trains. When he visits a place, he always remembers all the minute details, history and dates. I am always awed at his amazing memory.
10.00am - volunteers starting to arrive, sanitise their hands, put on gloves - we gather in a wide circle as I talk them through all the tasks for today.
10.15am - Zubin and Ana arrived for their fist day of volunteering in the community garden. I give them a brief induction and show Zubin how to harvest beans. Pick the young and fresh ones, leave the older ones to mature and dry up so that we can collect the seeds in a few weeks’ time.
10.45 – Nicole, Employment Specialist from Ambitious College arrives to make a risk assessment of the community garden before she places a student with special needs on a work experience programme with us. In the past we had up to three students doing work experience here during the morning volunteering sessions and we hope to be able to welcome one student and his assistant this academic year again.
11.30am – We are starting to finish up tasks and turn our attention to harvest and clean up. The harvest is still plentiful. We have potatoes, beans, cabbages, squashes, tomatoes as well as some carrots, mooli, kale, spinach, parsley and basil. We are also starting to prepare beds for planting onions, garlic and broad beans in October.
12.00pm – Session ends – everyone helps putting the tools away and volunteers take their share of the harvest. I am glad we can offer them something to say thank you for their hard work. Without them, this spring and summer in particular, the Community Vegetable Garden would be empty, and the orchard overgrown and dry. It has been a good morning. I lock up the tools and wave the volunteers good bye until next week.