Greening the grot spots

A grey and plain disused railway platform has been given new life thanks to a local scheme to garden on wasteland. A heartwarming row of greenhouses on the platform at Olympia railway station (pic above) contains chard, watercress, tomato and lettuce seedlings. There is also a whole array of herbs … you can hum the next bit … parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

The idea is that through sales of the vegetable and herb seedings money can be passed on to one of the 74 Kitchen Garden Schemes which have popped up everywhere and in unexpected places in our borough, run by groups of residents who have earmarked a disused space near them and volunteered to garden them. They are given up to £300 for infrastructure, soil and plants to grow in their space. Terry Oliver, RBKC’s  Head of Greener Living set up the  Cultivating Kensington and Chelsea scheme, and masterminding the Olympia greenhouses is volunteer Margaret Oxford (pic right) who started at the garden a year ago.

Oxford worked as a nurse for 40 years, since she was 17, but had to retire due to a nerve problem in her hands. She is really happy to be involved with this scheme. “I like to grow things,” she explains. In the past she has suffered from asthma and chest infections and since she started gardening she hasn’t had a single asthma attack. “Seeing things grow is very satisfying, and I’ve now got a purpose again” she says. “That’s what it’s all about.”

A new volunteer, Jennifer Makin had just arrived for her first day. “My family were all gardeners,” she says, “It’s just a very calming, satisfying thing and it’s out in the fresh air.”

We will be able to buy the seedlings every Saturday, 11am – 2pm, from 8th April at the Russell Road entrance to the garden and from Portobello Market on Tuesdays from 11th April, 10am – 4pm. The greenhouses are self-supporting and run by a group of around 10 volunteers. If you would like to help out, contact [email protected] for information on volunteering. … and to find out more about the Kitchen Garden Scheme, either to join one or to start one, you can fill in this form …

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