Chelsea Fringe

A few weeks ago I got to spend a couple days in the sunshine chatting to people about the various gardening projects that made up the inaugural the Chelsea Fringe. The garden-keen amongst you will no doubt be familiar with the Chelsea Flower Show. The Fringe aims to be a complement its more extravagant colleague and highlight projects that are making a difference in their community.

“Because of its working class roots, East London has far less green space than the wealthier neighborhoods in the North and West, so finding a place to plant something, let alone bring kids to, is often impossible.

The Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston used to be an abandoned railway spur and is now a peaceful park/garden/clubhouse beloved by the locals and now doubling as Fringe HQ. There are raised beds, plenty of trees and, most importantly for the local schoolchildren, a clay pizza oven.

Lynsey Daniels lives in a flat nearby with her 21/2-year-old son Joe and has come nearly every day for the past year. “It feels like it’s our garden. We’ve got some plants growing in pots that are just ours, and Joe does a lot of helping. He gets to hang out with the men and do all sorts of man things like hammering and sawing and digging.”

The Fringe took a giant step toward the mainstream when Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited some of the sights. A keen gardener, the Duchess spent time planting herbs with a group of Bangledeshi women and gave some seeds from the Duchy of Cornwall (land owned by her husband, Prince Charles) to schoolchildren at Spitalfields Farm, a popular working farm in East London.”

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