I love the diversity we can find in the Forest Garden! From the winding, grass-covered paths to the wild, untamed areas full of bracken and brambles. From the regimented vegetable beds, with their rows of produce, but also rows of cornflowers to feed the bees and marigolds, which attract ladybirds. From the earthen steps, where we fight the weeds to stop them from becoming a trip hazard, to the wildflower meadow, where we actively encourage the "weeds" to grow...
I love that no matter what we plan, nature also has her own ideas for the garden and I'm always excited to see what has sprung up since I last inspected an area!
I'm often reminded of the moment Josh discovered with a heavy heart that the badgers had come and eaten just the row of carrots, digging through their protective netting to eat the sweet roots, whilst carefully leaving the nibbled tops for us to find (they missed just one carrot and now, months later it's huge!)
The diversity of the flora and fauna that we share the space with is wonderful but I also love the diversity the visitors to the garden bring! Whether they're simply passing through and enjoying it, or spending the day working in it, every person brings their own unique outlook.
I love that I never know who I will be working with in the garden, or if I will be spending the day gardening by myself - peacefully tending to tasks like a free silent retreat, or singing along loudly to music whilst my little dog sniffs around or sits on my lap. When the volunteers join me I never know what kind of day we will have either. Perhaps a busy, chatty, silly one with lots of giggles as we tackle a large task together, or a serious one where we talk about logistics and potential future plans for the space. Or maybe a more quiet and reflective one where we open up about our lives and support each other whilst we sit and weed or take care of the plants.
Whichever it turns out to be, I know it always leaves me in a better mood and feeling like I've achieved something - not just something tangible that I can see, but a sense of connection with others; a sense of having contributed to something that people can enjoy even after we leave and go home.
This week I have experienced ALL of these things - meeting new friends in the garden and inviting my family to visit and see what we've all been doing. Talking about exciting future plans to make the garden as accessible as possible and tending to the veg that is still growing...Watching little mushrooms pop up all over the place; learning to make cuttings from fennel and attempting to keep the slugs and snails off the lettuce.
If you haven't experienced this diversity yourself, I really hope you can come and spend some time in the Community Forest Garden, either volunteering with us on a Friday, or just relaxing in the space whenever you visit Rockaway Park. Just click below for a chat about visiting the garden and helping us make it grow.