Party poppers at the ready – Meanwhile Gardens,the four acre community garden that forms the northerly border of Kensington and Chelsea is turning forty!
When four acres of derelict wasteland and crumbling terraces were being cleared just over 40 years ago, a local resident wondered if this could become a garden. That resident, Jamie McCullough, set about mobilising the local community to make the dream a reality and Westminster City Council, owners of the land at that time, agreed for it to be a garden ‘meanwhile’, until they could develop other plans.
The name stuck, the Gardens grew and prospered. Today, Meanwhile Gardens is run by a committee of local volunteers and offers a green oasis in densely populated North Kensington, providing safe open-air leisure, play, training and education opportunities.
The site includes a playhut for children under 6, a wildlife garden maintained by Mind, a Moroccan garden developed in partnership with local Moroccan women’s charity Al-Hasaniya and one of UK’s oldest skateparks. Kensington and Chelsea Council supports the Association with a grant of £62,500 per year to help it run a full programme of activities for the local community and maintain the gardens.
To mark its 40th birthday, a range of activities are planned and have taken place including the planting of 40 sunflowers and painting 40 unique bird boxes. And to further prove that life beings at 40, the charity is continuing to improve the facilities at Meanwhile Gardens, including refurbishing the skatepark that has started to show its age and develop cracks. The Association has already been working with those using the skatepark and started fundraising to maintain this facility for another generation of children and young people to access, without cost being a barrier.
And finally, check out the 1981 Meanwhile Gardens documentary below to see how it has been improving local life through the decades!
Feature photograph by David Fisher.