8 Community Gardens to Volunteer At
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Can you smell that? It's the smell of burgeoning flowers, aromatic herbs and freshly mowed grass. It's the scent of a community coming together to plant seedlings and grow crops, it's the whiff of companionship and an antidote to all that negative juju floating about.
It's horticultural therapy, baby, it's free, it's filthy and it makes this city look really lovely. So why not get involved and become a community G?
There's nothing quite like sitting under a rose-covered pergola with a good book, your bae or a nice warm brew. And what a pergola this lovely community garden in Islington has to offer. Set up in 1982, the Culpeper Garden focuses on organic growing and features a lawn, a pond, veg beds, brick seating, luscious perennials and a plethora of cool events throughout the summer. Come for a lazy stroll, and for god's sake leave your phone in your pocket. Just this once.
Get involved: Open volunteer sessions take place every Tuesday 2-4pm and every Friday 11-1pm. If you can't make those times (you work, we hear ya), community workdays also take place on the second Sunday of each month.
We know, we know, the name is misleading, but you could probably grow an elephant here if you really wanted to - though you'd need to have very little respect for nature, animals, the environment, the world, and we know you're not that kind of person. Instead, the people of Elephant and Castle have come together to grow tasty things, organise quirky events and enjoy each other's presence. Which feels nice, you should try it.
Get involved: There's at least one volunteering sesh per week, but you'll have to email garden master Paul to find out when.
The problem with gardens is that you can't just take them with you wherever you go. Unless your garden is nomadic, obvs. Currently residing in the shabby-chic pastures of Shoreditch, this kooky garden is all about planting in raised beds and enjoying some live music and chill vibes come evening. It features over 100 flower beds made out of pallets; kooky, artsy sculptures; graffitied walls; makeshift seats by the fire and a small cafe on the back of a scooter - because, well, Shoreditch.
Get involved: Volunteers are welcome any time, any day, so really you've got no excuse not to pop by and muck in.
Look, we're gonna level with you, we're quite into curves. All curves. Yes, even your curves. But curvy gardens are especially enticing, because according to the Chinese art of feng shui, rounded curvatures channel the universe's energy to flow around your garden. Only this little East End woodland was named the Dalston Curve not because it's curvy, but because it sits on the old Eastern Curve railway line. See, you learn something new and vaguely interesting everyday.
Get involved: Volunteers can drop in every Saturday between 2-5pm, which is really prime time for some gardening.
Apple trees, bee hives, veggies in the garden, a chalet-style cafe hidden in the woods - this spot gives us those warm and fuzzy eco-feels that are all the rage right now. So why not pop in before your gig at Ally Pally and see what these volunteer gardeners have been doing. Or better yet, taste it, as you can eat what they reap at the Queen's Wood Cafe. Bring a good book and your dog - it's time to indulge in some you time. We reckon you've earned it.
Get involved: Volunteer sessions take place on Mondays and Thursdays from 9am to 1pm. Plant sales are also often held on weekends.
In a bid to counteract the corporate dullness swooping across Kings Cross, this portable 'garden of 1000 hands' - after the 1000 volunteers who helped to build it, though technically that would be 2000 hands - is the perfect example of what organic farming can look like in the heart of the metropolis. It plays host to wild flowers, organic veg, beehives, a veggie kitchen, chicken coops, a recycled glass tower and a strange gramophone which beams the sound of the beehive (a beemaphone, surely?)
Get involved: Volunteers are welcome at any time during opening hours, or you can tag along to the twilight gardening sessions which take place every Wednesday 5-7pm.
Olden gardens are the best, especially when you consider that a youngen garden would just be a bunch of young shoots and seedlings. Lucky for us, this luscious two-acre community garden in Highbury boasts over 25 years experience of growing nice tings, along with a cosy summer house for when summer isn't feeling especially summery. This OG also boasts a small woodland, so you can take a stroll with your bae, or accidentally lose them in it.
Get involved: Volunteer days take place on the third Saturday of every month.
If you're the type of person who wouldn't miss BBC's Gardener's World for, well, the world, then chances are you've been gagging for a greenhouse for years. Which is why the good people of Brockwell have gotten together to grow some tasty stuff in the vast greenhouses of Brockwell Park, like yam, banana, chilli, or cocoa. When the weather is nice, volunteers will plant new shoots and organise picnics in the park's grounds. When the weather is not so nice, it's fine, because they have a bloody greenhouse.
Get involved: Volunteers are welcome any time during the park's opening times - closes at 5pm during summer and 4pm come winter.