Cordwainers (named because it's on the site of a former shoe-making college) is a small community garden in the middle of urban Hackney – although most people don’t know it’s there as it’s tucked behind a wall in the lee of a large college building.
The garden was created by a group of neighbours, who transformed an area that was disused into a thriving growing space for local people, as well as visiting gardening groups and volunteers.
We’ve built raised beds for growing fruit and vegetables and created mixed borders for wildlife-friendly plants.We’ve also planted fruit bushes, hedging and trees. An important ethos of the garden is to grow plants not just for eating or decoration, but to enjoy and promote their many other uses, such as dyeing, fibre or medicinal.
We have a small medicinal plant bed and are in the sixth year of growing dye plants. We hold regular dye workshops using flowers, leaves, 'weeds' and barks gathered from the garden.
We also grow flax to make thread and in 2014/15 led a project to grow, process and make a garment entirely in London from flax/linen grown in plots around the city. Schools, community plots, city farms, park groups, housing estates, individuals and the London College of Fashion grew and processed flax to make the top – probably the first produced entirely in the city, at least for several decades.
Some of the garden has been left as wild space, where we have made a pond, inhabited by many frogs. We also have beehives. All the beds are built from reclaimed materials – mostly scaffolding planks. We have turned polycarbonate sheeting into coldframes and there is a 'slow' shed made mainly from pallets and found materials. We have decorated it by weaving willow through the slats.
The garden is run, maintained and funded wholly by volunteers.
Capital Growth garden: