Here’s a chance to hear from one of our latest group members
Could you tell us a little about yourselves?
Eden Nature Garden was created from a piece of disused church land in 2000 and over the last 20 years has evolved into a beautiful, tranquil garden, a haven for wildlife and a wonderful space for people to sit and enjoy being in nature. The garden is only about an acre in size but is home to a small meadow, lawns, a pond, an apiary of hives, which is managed by the London Beekeepers Association, and several raised beds where individuals without gardens of their own can grow vegetables. Our head gardener, Benny, organises a team of enthusiastic volunteers and we have an ever-growing Friends of Eden membership.
This is a very urban environment – have you found that people have really needed this space this year? Despite the lockdown, have you had increased interest in joining the garden?
When we went into the first lockdown in March 2020, we wondered if we should close the garden. It soon became apparent, however, that Eden was precisely what people needed and many locals discovered us for the first time. The garden is at its best in spring and early summer and so the timing for first-time visitors was perfect. Our volunteer numbers went up and so did our sales of honey!
What would you say are your biggest challenges?
Eden is an unmanned site and we occasionally suffer from anti-social behaviour. This forces us to close the garden for a few weeks at a time which is very frustrating. One of our other main challenges is our lack of water. We collect the rainwater from the shed roof, but it isn’t enough to irrigate the whole garden and if we have a prolonged dry spell, the garden can look parched. We’re raising money to collect and store rainwater from the church roof nearby. It’s always a challenge to find money for capital projects in the garden.
And what are your greatest successes?
One of our greatest successes has been to keep the garden going over the last 20 years on a shoestring budget and with the enthusiasm of its volunteers, especially those who’ve joined us over the last 12 months. We have a strong committee and the potential to extend our reach into the local community. Creating Eden has enabled the local area to feel safe. A wide variety of artists are now visiting Eden to draw inspiration for their work.
Once we emerge from this terrible pandemic, what’s next for you at Eden?
Eden is being increasingly valued by the wider community, and we would like to promote the garden as a centre of excellence for wildlife. We aim to educate people about the importance of encouraging the local flora and fauna and preserving their habitats. We hope to do this through a lecture series, running workshops in the community and installing informative signs in the garden.
We are so delighted that you have joined Incredible Edible Lambeth? How can we be of help to you and your organisation?
Eden is keen to develop its outreach into the wider community and to increase awareness of biodiversity through organic gardening, banning the use of pesticides and the management of food waste. We believe that Incredible Edible shares the same ideas and we would love our two organisations to work together to promote this practice across the borough..
Benny, thanks so much for talking with us – we really hope we can come and video your beautiful garden before too long.
Quote from Esra:
“Born and raised in Aegean in a Cretan Turkish family, I connect to my family through the earth in Eden. The smell of the compost takes me back to my Granma’s garden, to the corner we used play hide and seek. The bay leaves from the garden align the stews i make here to my Aunts nourishing recipes. Eden has been a buoy for me navigating through the pandemic and challenges of settling in a new country.”