Save the bees – and the frogs, beetles, butterflies and bats

cowley before

by Susan Sheehan, Director Incredible Edible Lambeth

Incredible Edible Lambeth social media has been buzzing has been this year as community gardeners all over the borough have been shocked at the ‘eradication’ of Cowley Food Farm. Much to the horror of community gardeners the site of the farm, more than 5 years in existence, has been cleared by contractors and now faces permanent eradication, apparently due to ‘lack of interest’

Marry Brown, explained that she received a note from housing managers that contractors would be tidying up the site, but she thought that this was part of a plan that the gardeners had been working with the community gardener at Myatts Field Park. She managed to get in with a day’s notice and recover some treasured plants and equipment, but the tidy up went much further than expected. “I thought they were cutting grass around the edges, but the whole garden was flattened. Plants and equipment such as watering cans was just thrown away.”

Merry admits that some of of the site had been untended for a while, mainly because some growers had been ill, but plans were being made to reallocate and recover those sites.

I have personally been involved with the garden at ad hoc intervals since it began. I have donated time and equipment, and would be very sad to see the garden disappear completely after all this time. I have posted a note on the Cowley Food Farm facebook page in support of the project.

Of particular concern to Ann Bodkin, chair of Incredible Edible Lambeth (IEL), is the complete lack of consideration for biodiversity on the site. “We have seen this before. It is so sad that contractors and managers do not appreciate the value of a diverse range of plants and that they bring the bees and create homes for insects and butterflies. This site even had frogs.”

Ann would like to see contractors follow a biodiversity code. Events at Cowley follow shortly after contractors in Windmill Gardens in Brixton cut back a hedgerow so hard that they completely killed fruit bushes and vines that had been planted using hard-won IEL funds. “Contractors should know the difference between a bramble and a fruit bush, but they don’t.”

Save the bee campaigns are very high profile at the moment and widely supported. Yet the best thing we can do to save the bees is encourage planting of plants and flowers for the bees to feed on. Pristine, grassed areas that are easy for contractors to maintain, are lifeless, and unwelcoming. If we are to create a healthy environment in Lambeth, we have to learn to value biodiversity.

Cowley Food Farm would like you to comment on their facebook page before the 14th March when the Board of Cowley TMO will meet sanction the eradication of Cowley Food Farm project.