Blog Series, Gardening, International Women's Day

Roots and shoots of Calthorpe Community Garden for IWD

In celebration of International Women’s Day [IWD], we want to take a look at some women gardeners and those who support women in a horticultural environment. We believe these women are breaking the bias against women of all different backgrounds.  Want to read the intro to this series? Check it out here!

For the last of our International Women’s Day blog series, we’ve spoken to Calthorpe Community Garden. Based in Camden, London, this Garden project originated in the 80s from the residents’ desire to make a green space near them, rather than allow an office development. In 1984, Calthorpe Community Garden became a charity. 

The garden is open 7 days a week and run by a mixture of employees and volunteers. They run different types of groups and events including an Independent Women’s Day celebration which was on the 11th March. This year there were activities like flower arranging, weaving and meditation, as well as local businesses taking part. One being Bloomsbury Beginnings, working with women entrepreneurs – a great venture. 

We spoke to the Director, Louise Gates, about her involvement in the garden:

Groups for social inclusion

Adults with learning disabilities can participate in social and therapeutic horticulture activities.  We want to get people socially engaged and interacting. There’s groups for older people once a week, shared lunches and a food bank with vegetables from the garden.

A Bangladeshi women’s group runs to encourage women from the local area to get to know each other. They each have a mini allotment to tend and produce herbs, fruit and vegetables. 

At weekends there are family and children’s activities centred around nature, like bird watching and leaf identification. We also run football coaching, food growing, arts and cooking sessions.

Some exciting things happening

With the help of Kusuma Trust we have launched a Community Composting Scheme and our Anaerobic Digester. It takes organic waste from the local cafe and turns it into biogas for cooking and heating. 

Also, there will be a water feature next year using the waters from local sources which are supposed to be healing.”

The benefits of the community garden

“By having a community garden, we want to promote inclusivity and make the local area a nicer place to live. It’s a community hub and a shared space for people of all different backgrounds. 

We’ve gotten food to people who couldn’t leave their homes. We even helped people to feel less isolated during the lockdown by providing cooking and exercise classes streamed live from the garden.”

Having looked at different community gardens we can see that being part of a group helping the natural world actually helps the women from the community as well.  Along with feeling part of something, they are making a real and visible difference. Promoting health and wellbeing and being good, acquaintances, neighbours and friends. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series and the perspectives given by these inspiring women.

To read the previous blog in the series click here!