Four London gardening projects were among the inspirational projects that received recognition in the Gardening Against the Odds awards, presented at snowy Syon on Thursday.
The overall winner of this year's awards is Sajeda Kadir, who has been the prime mover in turning a disused adventure playground on a Camden housing estate into a productive vegetable garden for the community. The plot was started up with the help of charity, Groundwork, but it's Sajeda who has made the garden thrive, putting fresh herbs and vegetables onto neighbours' tables.
Sajeda cares for her disabled child at home and so this project on her doorstop has not only unlocked a great talent for gardening but it has helped Sajeda make connections with other people on the estate and reduce her sense of isolation — her mantra is "sharing makes you happy". The garden at West End Sidings, Kilburn, now grows spinach, radishes, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, strawberries, sweet pumpkins, runner beans and a range of herbs.
You've probably walked past St John's Church, Waterloo a bunch of times. Round the back, the Putting Down Roots project, run by St Mungo's — a runner up in the awards — is helping people who have experienced homelessness transform their lives through tending to the church yard garden and getting training and qualifications. This is therapeutic gardening, but it's also good gardening with the allotment providing fruit and vegetables to The Table Cafe in Southwark and project members also maintaining Melior Street community gardens. Visit the garden this summer and you'll see for yourself.
Awards of Merit also go to the Edible Bus Stop team who started a guerilla community garden by a bus stop in Stockwell and are now working on an Edible Bus Route. Their next garden, at the Lambeth Hospital bus stop, has its official opening on the first day of the Chelsea Fringe.
And finally, over in Haringey, George Dunnion and Serge Charles also receive an Award of Merit for their transformation of a duff allotment plot in Bounds Green into a spectacular rose garden which will open to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme.
For more information about the Gardening Against the Odds awards visit the Conservation Foundation website.